Maen Areikat, Palestine’s ambassador to the United States, said this week that he is hopeful about the current effort to reach an accord between Israel and the Palestinians, but he warned that time is short, and that perhaps only two years remain before all hope for a two-state solution vanishes. "I still have some hope that the current [US] administration will translate its ideas into action … in the next two years," he said. But if nothing happens in the next 24 months, he warned, "It is possible that we wll be past the point of a two-state solution."

The implication was that if a two-state solution won’t work, a binational state mixing Jews and Arabs would be the only option left.

Speaking at a small dinner organized by the New America Foundation and the Palestinian Business Committee for Peace and Reform on October 14, Areikat added that political pressure is building on the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, but that the leadership won’t be able to support that idea indefinitely without tangible progress."Right now the PLO is committed to a two-state solution, but the leadership is  not going to be able to defend that," he said.

Opposition to resuming talks with a stubborn and intransigent Prime Minister Netanyahu, who insists on defending Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, comes not only from Hamas, but from the Palestinian left and within the ranks of Fatah, too, he said. At least two-thirds of Palestinians continue to support a two-state solution and do not support the use of violence to achieve the goal of a Palestinian  state, according to Areikat, but frustation is growing quickly. "The dream of an independent Palestinian state is getting more remote every day," he declared. He said that Palestinians are prepared to accept a third-party military presence for security purposes if Israel vacates the West Bank, whether in the form of a multinational force, NATO, or US forces. But that progress is needed now.

Among the options talked about, he suggested, were the unilateral declaration of a government by the PA, an approach to the United Nations for a takeover or trusteeship in the occupied territories, or even the dissolution of the PA.

He rejected suggestions that Netanyahu is constrained by the right-wing coalition that he leads. Netanyahu, said Areikat, could throw out the most extreme elements of this coalition and strike a deal with Kadima, more moderate, centrist party that was created when former Ariel Sharon’s Likud bloc split.