Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid is set to call for a Palestinian state Thursday morning when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly in a move that will place him firmly in Israel’s left-wing camp.
An official close to the prime minister told reporters Wednesday night that Lapid will offer “hope and vision through strength” by calling for a two state solution that will transform the Palestinian Authority into a sovereign Palestinian state.
“Israel must move toward a two state solution,” Lapid is expected to say.
For many years, “no Israeli prime minister has said this on the UN stage,” said the official.
“We can go to better places; we must present a diplomatic vision, we must also make sure we recognize the dangers in front of us,” Lapid is expected to say.
“We will not do anything that will endanger the security of Israel and Israelis by even a centimeter,” the official said, but added, “Separation from the Palestinians must be part of our diplomatic vision, part of the hope through strength worldview.”
The revelation was hailed by Israel’s left wing, but it was condemned by Lapid’s own coalition partners.
“I congratulate Prime Minister Lapid,” leftist Meretz chair Zehava Galon said in a tweet.
“Millions of Israelis and Palestinians are waiting for a diplomatic horizon that will put an end to the cycle of bloodshed. I call on the prime minister to go one step further and meet with [Palestinian Authority head] Mahmoud Abbas at the UNGA.”
Lapid reportedly has no plans to do any such thing. However, the official who spoke with reporters quoted Lapid as saying his father did not survive the Holocaust to come to Israel just so there could be a binational state.
Current coalition partners were adamant that Lapid has no right to make such a statement at the international gathering.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) said in a statement Wednesday night that Lapid does not represent the people of the State of Israel.
“Interim Prime Minister Lapid does not have the public legitimacy to complicate Israel with statements that will cause harm to the state,” she said in a tweet. “Lapid represents only himself with these statements and not the government. A Palestinian state endangers the State of Israel.”
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar (National Union) likewise warned that such a move would result in another terror state on Israel’s borders.
“The establishment of a terror state in Judea and Samaria will endanger the security of Israel,” he said. “Most of the Israeli people and their representatives will not allow this to happen.”
Lapid’s alternate prime minister, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, was equally vociferous in condemning the move. “There is no place or logic to raise the idea of a Palestinian state,” Bennett wrote in a Facebook post.
“We need to say it clearly. There is no place for another state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Not just because of our right to the land but also because practically there is no chance of a diplomatic process succeeding with the Palestinians.”
The leading opposition party — Likud — also slammed Lapid for his plans.
“After Lapid established the first Israeli-Palestinian government, now he wants to establish a Palestinian state on the border of Kfar Saba, Netanya and Ben Gurion Airport, and hand over territories from our homeland to our enemies,” the Likud said in a statement.
“For years, [Likud chair and former Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu managed to remove the Palestinian issue from the world agenda; Lapid brought Abu Mazen back to the forefront in less than a year.”
Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich, chair of the opposition Religious Zionism party, also attacked Lapid’s plans.
“After years in which the right managed to remove the folly of a Palestinian state from the agenda and make [Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud] Abbas an irrelevant figure in the world, [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz and Lapid are leading a dangerous process that brings this deviant idea back to the table,” Smotrich said.
“Gantz brought Abbas back to the center of the political stage last year and now Lapid is irresponsibly pushing us back twenty years and inviting international pressure on Israel to promote a step that is nothing less than suicide for the State of Israel.
“Even before this evil government was established, we warned that it would bring us back onto the Oslo track. We implored Bennett and Shaked not to break their promises and not to make Lapid prime minister for the entire past year. God forbid, this is what will happen if the national camp does not win the elections and does not form the next government,” he continued.
“Lapid and Gantz will establish a minority government with the [Arab] Joint List and strive to establish a terror state in the heart of the Land of Israel, and expel settlers,” Smotrich warned.
“I hope that now every right-wing person understands that he must vote for the right-wing bloc and bring about the establishment of a right-wing government of the national camp. Voting for Gantz and the left-wing bloc endangers the State of Israel.”