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At UN, Biden reaffirms commitment to two-state solution for Israelis, Palestinians

US president says proposed peace strategy is best for both peoples; accuses Russia of violating tenets of global body’s charter with ‘brutal, needless’ invasion of Ukraine

US President Joe Biden addresses to the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, Sept. 21, 2022. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
US President Joe Biden addresses to the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, Sept. 21, 2022. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

NEW YORK — US President Joe Biden reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the two-state solution during his address before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

“We will continue to advocate for lasting negotiated peace between the Jewish and democratic state of Israel and the Palestinian people,” Biden says toward the end of a roughly 30-minute speech that focused largely on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine along with climate change.

“The United States is committed to Israel’s security. Full stop. A negotiated two-state solution remains in our view the best way to ensure Israel’s security and prosperity… and give the Palestinians a state to which they are entitled.”

The goal would be “both sides fully respecting the equal rights of their citizens. Both people enjoying equal measures of freedom and dignity,” he continued, reiterating the same talking point the Biden administration has used regarding its policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since it took office.

Biden also briefly highlighted his recent trip to the Middle East where he participated in a meeting in Saudi Arabia with the leaders of nine Arab countries “to work toward a more peaceful, integrated Middle East.”

Biden reiterated that the US is committed to returning to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal so long as Tehran does the same.

“The United States is clear. We will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. We continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome,” Biden said. “The Non-Proliferation regime — one of the greatest successes of this institution — cannot let the world now slide backwards.”

The US president also highlighted “the brave women of Iran, who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights” during a section of his speech on human rights violations.

The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, brokered by the Obama administration — and scrapped by Trump in 2018 — provided billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s agreement to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to extensive international inspection.

The deal has been in tatters since the US pulled out and reimposed sanctions on Iran which responded by dropping its own commitments. European-sponsored efforts to revive the deal appear stalled.

Delivering his own address a few hours earlier, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Tehran is serious about reviving the nuclear deal, signed with world powers in 2015.

President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, Sept. 21, 2022. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Raisi also pushed an alternative to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, suggesting instead a vote by all Palestinians, “Muslim, Christians and Jews,” to establish a single state.

Russia’s ‘shameless’ violation of core tenets

Biden declared that Russia has “shamelessly violated the core tenets” of the UN with its “brutal, needless war” in Ukraine. He said the war is an affront to the heart of what the international body stands for as he looked to rally allies to stand firm in backing the Ukrainian resistance.

Delivering a forceful condemnation of Russia’s seven-month invasion, Biden said reports of Russian abuses against civilians in Ukraine “should make your blood run cold.” And he said President Vladimir Putin’s new nuclear threats against Europe showed “reckless disregard” for Russia’s responsibilities as a signer of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

He criticized Russia for scheduling “sham referenda” this week in territory it has forcibly seized in Ukraine.

“A permanent member of the UN Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the UN charter,” he told his UN audience.

The Russian delegation watches President of the United States Joe Biden address the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, Sept. 21, 2022. (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

Biden called on all nations, whether democracies or autocracies, to speak out against Russia’s invasion and to bolster’s Ukraine effort to defend itself.

“We will stand in solidarity against Russia’s aggression, period,” Biden said.

Biden also highlighted consequences of the invasion for the world’s food supply, pledging $2.9 billion in global food security aid to address shortages caused by the war and the effects of climate change. He praised a UN-brokered effort to create a corridor for Ukrainian grain to be exported by sea, and called on the agreement to be continued despite the ongoing conflict.

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