Gaza is becoming more and more cut off from the rest of the Palestinian territories as hopes of sealing a Fatah-Hamas unity deal fade, Palestinian premier Salam Fayyad has warned."With each day that passes without practical steps towards achieving reconciliation, Gaza is starting to become a distinct entity," he told reporters late on Monday.
"Not a country nor sovereign territory, only a distinct entity."
And in parallel, hopes of achieving a Palestinian state were also fading as it was not possible to have an independent state in the West Bank alone, he said.
"There is no Palestinian state without Gaza," he admitted.
"A Palestinian state is an Israeli interest because people who promote the two-state solution know it depends on demographic issues, especially as estimates say that Palestinians will outnumber Jews living in historical Palestine by 2020."
Projections show Israel is rapidly losing the "demographic battle" against the Palestinians who are set to outnumber Jews in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean within a matter of years.
Official statistics show there are currently some 5.9 million Jews living in Israel and the occupied territories, compared with 5.8 million Palestinian Arabs: 1.6 million Arab Israelis, 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and 1.6 million in Gaza.
But if Gaza became further cut off from the rest of the Palestinian territories, it would ease the demographic pressure on Israel by "removing" Gaza's population from the equation, and thereby undermine Israeli support for the two-state solution, he said.
"If the situation continues as it, 1.7 million Palestinians would be written out of the demographic picture in the minds of those who are counting, whether from the Israeli right or left," he said.
The Palestinians, he said, should learn from German efforts to reconcile between the east and the west after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as a way of overcoming the political split between the West Bank and Gaza.
"The Palestinian Authority is not a faction but a home for all Palestinians. We should use the German concept that made the Berlin Wall fall," he said.
The deadlocked reconciliation bid filled people with the same sense of "despair" as the stalled Middle East peace process, he said.
"It has lost its credibility! People are bored of it and they have every right to be," he said. "The approach must change.
"We should start changing our approach and turn to the people through elections."
In April 2011, the ruling Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas signed a reconciliation deal with its Hamas rivals who govern Gaza in a move aimed at ending years of rivalry.
But the deal was never implemented, with the factions falling out over plans to set up a caretaker cabinet of independents which was to have prepared the way for presidential and legislative elections within a year.