UAE International Cooperation Minister Reem Al Hashimy welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s backing for a two-state solution in her speech before the UN General Assembly on Saturday.
The Emirati minister joined US President Joe Biden and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in lauding Lapid’s decision to express support for the two-state initiative on the UN stage two days earlier, though the Palestinian leader spent much of his speech castigating Israel and accusing it of destroying prospects for peace.
Much of Hashimy’s speech focused on the broader theme of international cooperation, and Lapid was just about the only leader to receive a shout-out, albeit not in name.
“We stress here our firm position calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with agreed international references,” Hashimy said, backing the PA’s specific stance on a two-state solution, one which has little support among the Israeli public since it would ostensibly require Israel to relinquish some of its sovereignty over Jerusalem and evacuate every one of its settlements.
“We welcome the point made by the Prime Minister of the State of Israel in his statement from this podium regarding support for the vision of the two-State solution,” she said.
The Emirati minister later highlighted the two-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords normalization agreements Israel signed with the UAE and Bahrain, noting that “several initiatives took place to promote developmental and economic integration and cooperation across our region.”
“We have witnessed a rise of the community for progress in the Middle East which will reinforce joint cooperation around the most pressing global priorities,” she said.
Lapid also hailed the Abraham Accords in his speech, though his decision to become the first Israeli prime minister to back the two-state solution at the UN General Assembly since former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu did so in 2016 was what received more attention.
“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,” Lapid declared.
Lapid said Israel had only a single condition for Palestinian statehood: “That a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one. That it will not become another terror base from which to threaten the well-being and the very existence of Israel. That we will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all times.”
“You can ask us to live according to the values in the UN Charter,” he said, “but you cannot ask us to die for them.”
Lapid’s call for a two-state solution in his speech has drawn condemnation from the right flank of his governing coalition, as well as Netanyahu, who is currently the opposition leader and his chief rival in upcoming elections.
Biden in a tweet called Lapid’s remarks “courageous,” adding that “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 declared.
Abbas also gave a nod to Lapid in his UNGA speech the next day, saying that “when we hear something positive, we acknowledge it.”
“I heard them supporting the two-state solution and we’re thankful for that.”
“But the real test to the seriousness and credibility to this stance… is for the Israeli government to go back to the negotiation table immediately,” the PA president said, adding that Israel must cease all unilateral actions such as settlement building, demolition of homes, evictions and “killings.”