Yair Lapid reaffirmed Israel’s support for a two-state solution, arguing “peace is not a compromise” as he addressed the UN General Assembly last week.
“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. Peace is not a compromise. It is the most courageous decision we can make,” the prime minister told a plenary session as world leaders gathered in New York.
“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 added.
Lapid, who will lead the centre-left Yesh Atid party into November’s general election, said Israel had “only one condition: That a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one”.
The prime minister also directly addressed “the people of Gaza”. “We are 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,” he said.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, gave a lukewarm welcome to Lapid’s words when he addressed the UN the following day. “When we hear something positive, we acknowledge it,” he said.
However, Abbas spent most of his speech accusing Israel of pursuing policies which prove “unequivocally” that the Jewish state “does not believe in peace”.
“We no longer have an Israeli partner to whom we can talk,” Abbas said, before urging Israel “to go back to the negotiation table immediately”.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu accused Lapid of “complete weakness, defeat [and] capitulation”.