In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid recommitted Israel to the two-state outcome, thus reversing the policy of his predecessors.
Weeks before the Nov. 1 election in Israel, Lapid said he was more closely aligned with President Joe Biden, who made a similar call in his General Assembly remarks on Tuesday.
“Israel’s economic and military strength allows us to protect ourselves but it also allows us something else, to strive for peace with the entire Arab world and with our closest neighbors, the Palestinians,” Lapid said. “An agreement with the Palestinians based on two states for two people 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.”
Lapid also appeared to retreat to a degree from two of his opponent and predecessor Netanyahu’s views: that Israel would control security over the West Bank in any final two-state agreement, and that a future Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized. He additionally seemed to hold out an unprecedented olive branch to Gaza. While he called on its residents to declare a permanent cease-fire and on Hamas to return Israeli captives as a predicate for peace, he did not mention a demand that Israel has made for decades: a declarative recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.