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Israeli PM Lapid backs two-state solution with Palestinians


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UNITED NATIONS, September 22 (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday called for a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reiterated that Israel would do “whatever it takes” to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

His mention of a two-state solution, the first in years by an Israeli leader to the United Nations General Assembly, echoes US President Joe Biden’s support in Israel in August for the long-dormant proposal.

“A two-state, two-nation deal with the Palestinians is right for the security of Israel, for the Israeli economy, and for the future of our children,” Lapid said.

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He added that any agreement would depend on a peaceful Palestinian state that would not threaten Israel.

Lapid spoke less than six weeks before a November 1 election that could bring right-wing former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longtime opponent of the two-state solution, back to power.

Israel took over East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—areas the Palestinians are seeking to establish an independent state—in the 1967 Middle East War. US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks failed in 2014.

In his speech, Lapid reiterated his condemnation of Iran and declared Israel’s determination to prevent its longtime enemy from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“The only way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to put a real military threat on the table,” he said. “We have opportunities and we are not afraid to use them.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, USA, September 22, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Israel, widely believed to have the only nuclear weapon in the Middle East, sees Iran as an existential threat. Tehran denies attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

PALESTINIANS, US REACT

Efforts to conclude an Israeli-Palestinian two-state agreement have long stalled.

Palestinians and human rights groups say Israel has consolidated its control over the occupied Palestinian territories through its military rule over millions of Palestinians and persistent settlement building.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Reuters that Lapid’s words “mean nothing.”

“Whoever wants a two-state solution must implement it locally,” he said, honoring earlier agreements by halting settlement expansion and recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Neides called Lapid’s speech “bold” for supporting a two-state solution.

Lapid praised the efforts of the countries of the Middle East to normalize relations and cooperate with Israel. He called on Muslim countries, from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, to make peace with him.

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Reporting by Henrietta Chakar in Jerusalem; Edited by James Mackenzie and Howard Goller

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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