Israeli PM Yair Lapid calls for two-state solution, Palestinians say United Nations speech ‘means nothing’

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has called for a two-state solution to decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr. Lapid’s call for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel came during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday and echoed US President Joe Biden’s recent support for the long-dormant proposal.

“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right choice for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children,” Lapid said.

He said any agreement would depend on a peaceful Palestinian state that would not threaten Israel.

Attempts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian two-state agreement have long stalled.

Palestinians and human rights groups say Israel has entrenched its control over the occupied Palestinian territories through its military rule over millions of Palestinians and continues to build settlements in occupied territory.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Mr Lapid’s words “mean nothing”.

He said that “who wants a two-state solution must implement it on the ground” and respect previous agreements, stop settlement expansion and recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

    President Joe Biden gives a fist to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
US President Joe Biden with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid during a visit to Tel Aviv. (AP: Evan Vucci)

Mr Lapid’s speech came less than six weeks after the November 1 election that could bring former right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power.

Netanyahu has long been an opponent of the two-state solution.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza – areas Palestinians seek for an independent state – in a 1967 Middle East war.

The US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks failed in 2014.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides called Mr Lapid’s speech “courageous” for supporting the two-state solution.

‘Credible military threat’ aimed at Iran

Mr. Lapid also confirmed that Israel would “do anything” to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

“The only way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to present a credible military threat,” he said.

“We have opportunities and we are not afraid to use them.”

It is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear weapons, and Israel views Iran as an existential threat.

Tehran, however, denies that its nuclear program is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon.

Reuters

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