Lapid Faces Backlash for Plan to Support Two-State Solution in U.N. Address

Prime Minister Yair Lapid. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

MKs and Ministers harshly criticized Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday after it was revealed that he would call for the two-state solution in his address at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

One of the most prominent voices opposing the plan was that of former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Lapid’s closest ally and partner in the interim government.

“The path I led as prime minister was not to quarrel with the whole world unnecessarily, but also not to fold unnecessarily. There is no place or logic to bringing back the idea of a Palestinian state.

“By the way, who are we talking about when we talk about Palestinians? About the Hamas terror organization, which is supported by the majority of Palestinians? About the Islamic Jihad? Or about [PA leader Mahmoud] Abbas who in his free time denies the Holocaust and pays murderers? They themselves are deeply conflicted and light years away from being able to govern.

“The year is 2022, not 1993. Even the true friends of the State of Israel do not expect us to compromise on our security and our future,” he wrote on social media “Therefore, empty slogans like ‘two states’ should remain in the 90s, along with many other fads that have faded away.”

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked also expressed criticism, saying that as interim prime minister, Lapid had “no public legitimacy to entangle Israel with statements that will harm the country.”

The Likud party blasted the Prime Minister as well: “After Lapid established the first Israeli-Palestinian government, now he wants to establish a Palestinian state… and hand over territories from our homeland to our enemies. For years, [Binyamin] Netanyahu managed to remove the Palestinian issue from the world agenda, and Lapid brought Abbas back to the forefront in less than a year.”

Calling the two-state solution “a deviant idea,” head of the Religious Zionist Party Betzalel Smotrich accused Lapid of “inviting international pressure on Israel to promote a step that is nothing less than suicide for the State” and Defense Minister Benny Gantz of bringing “Abbas back to the center of the political stage.”

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who is a member of Gantz’s State Party, also expressed opposition, saying, “Establishing a terror state in Yehudah and Shomron will endanger Israel’s national security. Most of the people in Israel and their representatives will not allow this to happen.”

Another member of Gantz’s party, Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, wrote that “Lapid’s vision of founding a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel is a serious mistake and an enormous danger to the State and its citizens.”

Nevertheless, some left-wing MKs supported Lapid and the two-state solution.

The Prime Minister “indicates the right direction. The two-state solution is the way to end the bloody conflict and preserve the Zionist vision: a Jewish and democratic Israel,” Health Minister and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz said. “This is a step of leadership, of creating a political horizon, after many years of stagnation. There is definitely someone to talk to, on both sides. It’s time.”

Similarly, Meretz chairwoman Zahava Galon wrote, “Millions of Israelis and Palestinians are waiting for a diplomatic horizon that will put an end to the cycle of bloodshed. I call on the Prime Minister to go one step further and meet with Mahmoud Abbas at the UNGA.”

Lapid is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday evening. Abbas will also be delivering a speech the next day.

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