Lapid’s Support for Two-State Solution Draws Mixed Reactions

Prime Minister Yair Lapid arrives for his address at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, Thursday. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed support for the two-state solution in an address to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday evening, despite earlier criticism against such a move.

It was revealed several days before the address that Lapid was planning such a controversial move, with lawmakers and officials criticizing the prime minister, including close allies.

Lapid said at the event, “Israel’s economic and military strength allows us to protect ourselves but it also allows us something else: To strive for peace with the entire Arab world. And with our closest neighbors – the Palestinians.”

“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy, and for the future of our children,” he declared, adding that “We have only one condition. That a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one. That it will not become another terror base from which to threaten the well-being and the very existence of Israel. That we will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all times.”

President Joe Biden praised Lapid, calling his statement “courageous” and called on the Israeli government to work toward peace.

Quoting Lapid’s words, he said, “‘An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy, and for the future of our children.’ I could not agree more.”

Expressing a similar sentiment, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides tweeted, “Peaceful coexistence is the only way forward. As President Joe Biden urged [during his trip to the Middle East] in July, ‘two peoples, with deep and ancient roots in this land, living side by side in peace and security.'”

The chorus of praise was also joined by groups, such as J Street, Israel Policy Forum, The American Jewish Committee, Americans for Peace Now, and others.

But while Lapid was lauded by officials in the U.S., at home he was accused of putting Israel’s future at risk.

“Tonight we heard a speech full of weakness, defeat, and bowing of the head,” Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu said. “After the right-wing government led by me removed the Palestinian state from the world agenda after we brought four historic peace agreements with Arab countries that bypassed the Palestinian veto, Lapid is bringing the Palestinians back to the forefront of the world stage and putting Israel right into the Palestinian hole.

“Lapid endangers our future and our existence both on the Palestinian issue and on the Iranian issue. While Iran rushes to a nuclear agreement that endangers the very existence of the State of Israel, Lapid does nothing.”

Likud chairman Yariv Levin said Lapid “surrendered shamefully” to the Palestinian Authority and “dealt a fatal blow to Israel’s political standing.”

“Instead of standing up to the world and saying out loud that the Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, Lapid bowed down to the haters of Israel,” he said, adding that Lapid had undone years of political achievements pushed through by Netanyahu.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon accused the prime minister of focusing on the Nov. 1 elections in Israel. “The spotlight that Lapid turned on the Palestinian issue instead of the Iranian threat proves that Lapid is only concerned with his election campaign and not with promoting the interests of the State of Israel,” he said.

Earlier, Lapid was criticized by former ally Naftali Bennett, who said that there was no logic “to bringing back the idea of a Palestinian state.”

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