ISTANBUL: Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid pledged support for a two-state solution with Palestine, as he repeated Tel Aviv’s determination to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.
His mention of a two-state solution, the first by an Israeli leader in years at the United Nations General Assembly, echoed U.S. President Joe Biden’s support in Israel in August for the long-dormant proposal.
Despite existing “obstacles,” he 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.”
He added any agreement would be conditioned on a peaceful Palestinian state that would not threaten Israel.
Lapid spoke less than six weeks before a Nov. 1 election that could return to power the right-wing former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longstanding opponent of the two-state solution.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital – a status not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Gaza has also been under a tightened Israeli blockade since 2007 and most basic goods enter the region through highly restricted measures.
Meanwhile, Israel has been conducting an intense diplomatic offensive in recent months to try to convince the United States and main European powers such as Britain, France and Germany not to renew the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
For the past 10 days, various officials have suggested the deal might not be renewed until at least mid-November, a deadline that Lapid has tried to use to push the West to impose a tougher approach in their negotiations.
“The only way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to put a credible military threat on the table,” Lapid said in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly.
Only then can a “longer and stronger deal with them” be negotiated.
“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,” he added.
And he made it clear that Israel itself would be willing to engage if it felt threatened.
“We will do whatever it takes,” he said. “Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.”
Lapid accused Tehran’s leadership of conducting an “orchestra of hate” against Jews and said Iran’s ideologues “hate and kill Muslims who think differently, like Salman Rushdie and Mahsa Amini,” the young woman whose death in the custody of Iran’s morality policy has triggered protests across the Islamic republic.
Israel, which considers Iran its archenemy, also blames Tehran for financing armed movements including the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.