NEW YORK CITY – The future Palestinian state that will exist next to Israel must be peaceful and not terror-based, Prime Minister Yair Lapid told the UN General Assembly on Thursday afternoon, just before returning to Israel.
If that condition is met, then the best path forward is “an agreement with the Palestinians based on two states for two peoples,” Lapid said.
This “is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children.”
A two-state solution "is the right thing for Israel's security, for Israel's economy and for the future of our children."Prime Minister Yair Lapid
His statement about a future Palestinian state and his affirmation of a two-state resolution to the conflict marks the strongest language an Israeli premier has used with regard to Palestinian sovereignty since the days of prime minister Ehud Olmert. It is the first time since 2016 that an Israeli leader has spoken of the two-state solution when addressing the UNGA.
“Despite all the obstacles, still today a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two-state solution. I am one of them,” Lapid said.
How will a future Palestinian state look?
“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. Peace is not a compromise. It is the most courageous decision we can make. Peace is not weakness. It embodies within it the entire might of human spirit,” he said.
Lapid arrived in New York on Tuesday morning to join the world leaders gathered for the high-level opening sessions of the 77th UNGA. He arrived at a time when it appeared that US President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran deal had come to a standstill. In his meetings with world leaders and in his speech to the plenum, Lapid said the time had come to abandon that document and to negotiate a new deal.
“The only way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to put a credible military threat on the table,” Lapid said.
"The only way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to put a credible military threat on the table."Prime Minister Yair Lapid
“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. Every time a threat like that was put on the table in the past, Iran stopped, and retreated.”
He linked Iran’s threats to annihilate the Jewish state with the Holocaust.
Lapid swore that Israel would do everything it could to safeguard its citizens and to stop Iran destroying its state.
“We will do whatever it takes: Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. We will not stand by while there are those who try to kill us. Not again. Never again,” he said.
What has Iran done?
Lapid charged that Iran was fueling global and regional terrorism, particularly against Israel, and that the UN had failed to act when faced with this threat.
“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,” Lapid said, evoking the accusation often made against the global community, which also stood silent during the Holocaust.
This is not the only way the United Nations has failed Israel, Lapid said. It has allowed its institution to be used as a platform by which to spread falsehoods against the Jewish state.
Israel is not a “guest in this building,” Lapid said, explaining that “Israel is a proud sovereign nation” and “an equal member of the United Nations.”
The UN’s actions toward Israel could be construed as antisemitism, Lapid noted.
“Antisemitism is the willingness to believe the worst about the Jews without questioning. Antisemitism is judging Israel by a different standard than any other country.”
He ended on a note of hope by referencing the Abraham Accords, under whose rubric Israel normalized ties with four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain and Sudan – in 2020.
He called on other Muslim and Arab countries to also normalize ties with Israel.