by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly
RAMALLAH, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid made a high-profile speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Sept. 22, during which he stressed his support for the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
This is the first time in years that an Israeli leader publicly expressed support for the two-state solution, which envisions an independent Palestinian state with the state of Israel as its neighbor.
However, such a gesture has not received the desired response in Palestine. Most Palestinian political analysts said that they are not convinced by Lapid's speech, arguing that the speech is merely "a political stunt to allure Israeli-Arab voters in the upcoming general election," which is scheduled for November 1.
Ahmad Rafiq Awwad, a political science professor at Al-Quds University, said Lapid's speech "is not serious" and "didn't offer anything." He pointed out that Lapid needed votes from Israeli-Arabs and support from leftist parties to win in the next elections, so the Israeli leader took the UNGA as an opportunity to promote his campaign.
The November elections will likely become a duel between Lapid and Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud bloc and served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2021, according to local media.
Now as the opposition leader, Netanyahu leads the ring-wing chiding over Lapid's speech. In a fiery video message released shortly after Lapid's speech, Netanyahu said that the prime minister was putting "the Palestinians back at the center of the international stage and sending Israel back into the Palestinian pit."
Netanyahu himself called for a two-state solution at the UN in 2016, but he has distanced himself from Palestinian statehood in recent years and now becomes a leading voice among the right-wing Israeli politicians to oppose the solution.
Abdulmajid Sweilem, a Ramallah-based political analyst, said that "there is no Israeli prime minister on the horizon who might go towards a real political solution with the Palestinians," adding Israel "does not believe in the two-state solution."
Although Lapid said in his UN speech that "a large majority of Israelis support the vision of the two-state solution," a recent poll made by the Israel Democracy Institute said otherwise.
The poll found that only 31 percent of Jewish Israelis think that the new government after the elections should try to advance a two-state solution, while 58 percent of the Jewish Israelis opposed such a move.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who addressed the UNGA a day after Lapid, said that Lapid's speech "is positive," adding that "the real test of the seriousness and credibility of this position is the Israeli government's sitting at the negotiating table immediately to implement the two-state solution."
He stressed the need to implement the solution based on relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative and to stop all unilateral measures that undermine the two-state solution.
On Monday, the Israeli police broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem to remove Muslim worshippers and provide a safe ground for ultranationalist Jews marking the Jewish New Year (from Sept. 25 to 27 this year), the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Haytham Daraghmeh, a political analyst from Ramallah, said that "the two-state solution no longer exists in light of the increase in Israeli settlement construction that is ravaging the Palestinian land day after day, in addition to Israel's non-compliance with UN and international resolutions."
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stopped in late March 2014 after Israel rejected the Palestinian demand to establish an independent state alongside Israel on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. ■