Interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid lauded the moribund two-state solution for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his speech at the United Nations on Thursday, prompting political rivals including former Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to accuse him of “endangering” Israel.
“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,” Lapid said.
“Despite all the obstacles, still today a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two-state solution. I am one of them,” he said.
Polls, even those conducted by Palestinian NGOs, show otherwise, with a minority of Israelis showing support for the notion of “two states for two peoples” side by side.
Lapid warned, however, that any Palestinian state must not become “another terror base from which to threaten the well being, and the very existence of Israel.”
“We will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all times,” he said.
“You can ask us to live according to the values in the UN Charter, but you cannot ask us to die for them,” he added. “We want to live in peace but only if it gives us security, not if it threatens us even more.
“Peace is not a compromise. It is the most courageous decision we can make.”
Lapid said Israel was ready to lift the restrictions on Gaza, which is ruled by the Hamas terror group.
“We’re ready to do more than that,” he went on.
“I say from here to the people of Gaza, we’re ready to help you build a better life, to build an economy. We presented a comprehensive plan to help rebuild Gaza. We only have one condition: Stop firing rockets and missiles at our children. Put down your weapons, there will be no restrictions,” he said.
A day earlier, President Joe Biden told the United Nations that the Palestinians are “entitled” to their own state and that the “two state solution remain[ed] our best way to ensure Israel’s security.”
The two-state solution, which has been trumpeted by successive American administrations — with the notable exception of the last one — has long proved to be an abject failure.
For starters, there is no partner for peace in the Palestinian government in Ramallah with which to broker such a solution. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues his sinister “pay-for-slay” scheme, paying monthly salaries convicted terrorists and their families, and the Biden administration rewarded him for doing so by resuming Palestinian aid.
But even if reaching a two state agreement were feasible with the PA, it would never be accepted by Hamas, the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip which has vowed to annihilate Israel and all the Jews “from the river to the sea” and liberate all of “Palestine.”
According to all the most recent polls, Hamas would defeat Abbas’s Fatah party if Palestinian elections were held today.
Every Israeli attempt to offer land concessions has been met by terror waves, beginning with attacks under late PLO leader Yasser Arafat in the 1990s following the failed Oslo accords, to the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, that prompted 17 years (and counting) of rocket attacks.
Netanyahu denounced Lapid’s speech, saying he was “endangering” Israel by “bringing the Palestinians back to the forefront of the world stage and putting Israel right into the Palestinian pit.”
In his speech on Thursday, Lapid also hailed the Trump-brokered Abraham Accords, saying Israel sought peace with all its neighbors.
“We are not going anywhere, the Middle East is our home. We are here to stay, forever. And we call upon every Muslim country – from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia – to recognize that, and to come talk to us. Our hand is outstretched for peace,” he said.
Turning to Iran, Lapid slammed the United Nations for ignoring the Islamic Republic’s threats against Israel.
“There is only one member-state in the UN that openly states its wish to destroy another member-state. Iran has declared time and time again that it is interested in the ‘total destruction’ of the State of Israel, and this building is silent.”
“What are you afraid of? Has there ever been a time in human history where silence stopped violence?” he asked rhetorically.
“If the Iranian regime gets a nuclear weapon, they will use it,” he said. “The only way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, is to put a credible military threat on the table. And then – and only then – to negotiate a ‘Longer and Stronger’ deal with them.
“It needs to be made clear to Iran, that if it advances its nuclear program, the world will not respond with words, but with military force,” he said. “Every time a threat like that was put on the table in the past, Iran stopped and retreated.”
He charged the West with going for the “easy option” in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran and choosing “not to believe the worst, despite all the evidence to the contrary.”
Lapid hailed Israel as a country for all its citizens, Arab and Jewish alike.
“A country in which Jews, Muslims and Christians live together with full civic equality,” he said. “In the government which I lead, there are Arab ministers. There is an Arab party as a member of our coalition. We have Arab judges in our Supreme Court, Arab doctors saving lives in our hospitals. Israeli Arabs are not our enemies, they are our partners in life.”
Lapid is a caretaker prime minister, pending elections November 1 after his governing coalition collapsed earlier this year.