Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid supported the creation of a Palestinian state in a speech addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, sparking a swift denunciation from Israel’s right.
“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.
“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,” he said.
Lapid added that Israel has “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.”
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party criticized the prime minister in a video post on social media, describing Lapid’s speech as “full of weakness, defeat.”
“After the right-wing government led by me dropped 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,” Netanyahu said.
“Now he intends to give them a state of terror in the heart of the country, a state that will threaten us all,” he added.
Yariv Levin, No.2 on the Likud Party Knesset list after Netanyahu as well as chairman of Likud and the opposition faction, 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 U.N. Danny Danon accused Lapid 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.
According to a July survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, only a minority of Israeli Jews (32%) said they would support a peace agreement between Israel and the P.A. if it meant dividing the land of Israel into two states.
Support for a two-state solution is also declining among Palestinian Arabs. A December 2021 survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that about 39% of Palestinians favored a two-state solution, down from 46% in 2018.
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