Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s demand for a two-state solution a “good step,” but said that the evidence would be a return to talks.
“The ultimate measure of the credibility and sincerity of this attitude is for the Israeli government to return to the negotiating table immediately,” he said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly that mostly condemned Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory.
In the 1967 Middle East conflict, Israel gained East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, all of which Palestinians want for an independent state. The US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke out in 2014.
Efforts to create a two-state solution, in which an Israeli and a Palestinian state coexist, have long been deadlocked.
“Unfortunately, our faith in attaining peace based on justice and international law is eroding due to Israel’s occupation tactics,” Abbas added, referring to Israel as a “apartheid government.”
Palestinians and rights groups say Israel has entrenched its control of the occupied Palestinian territories through its military rule over millions of Palestinians and persistent settlement construction. Some have cast doubt over whether a two-state solution remained feasible as a result.
Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan said in a tweet on Friday that it was the Palestinians who had rejected peace plans in the past.
Lapid’s mention of a two-state formula was the first by an Israeli leader on the United Nations stage in years and echoed U.S. President Joe Biden’s support in Israel in August for the long-dormant proposal.
Lapid spoke less than six weeks before a Nov. 1 election that could return to power the right-wing former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longstanding opponent of a Palestinian state.
Abbas said that while Western governments have supported the two-state formula, they have in effect obstructed its implementation by failing to recognize Palestine as a state and by shielding Israel from accountability.
He requested the UN to recognize Palestine as a full member state and to put forth a strategy to terminate Israel’s occupation.
In his tweet, Erdan stated that Israel will ensure that any attempt to grant Palestinians full statehood would fail.
Abbas stated in his address that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was assassinated by an Israeli sniper while documenting an Israeli incursion in the West Bank in May. He requested that the US pursue justice for Abu Akleh, a dual Palestinian-American citizen.
An Israeli inquiry into Abu Akleh’s death revealed that she was most likely shot by an Israeli soldier but was not intentionally targeted.