Prime Minister Yair Lapid opens his address to the United Nations General Assembly with a reminder that the very same body voted to create the Jewish state in November 1947.
Seventy-five years later, says the prime minister, Israel is a prosperous, innovative liberal democracy. This happened, Lapid argues, because Israel decided not to be a victim.
“We didn’t only reach the Promised Land, we are building the Promised Land,” he says.
History is determined by people, he continues, and they can choose whether the future is one of war and isolation or peace and partnership.
Lapid then pivots to May’s Negev Summit: “There were six of us. The Secretary of State of the United States, Foreign Ministers of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Israel. A dinner that only two years ago no one would have believed was possible.”
He recounts how the dinner was suddenly interrupted by news of a deadly terror attack in Hadera.
“The room fell silent.”
And then one of the Arab Foreign Ministers said, “We are always against terror, that’s why we are here.”
“And five minutes later we put out a joint statement from the six of us condemning the attack and sanctifying life, cooperation and our belief that there is a different way,” Lapid says.
He then asks who is doing better – those in the Middle East who choose peace, or those who choose war?
He notes that his government has Arab ministers and an Arab party, the Supreme Court has Arab judges, and Arab doctors save lives in Israeli hospitals.
“Come and visit us. You will discover that Israel is an incredible, cultural mosaic,” he says.