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Lapid understands that the two-state solution is imminent - By RUBA SAQR, Jordan News

 

 

 Last Thursday at the UN General Assembly in New York, Israel’s interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid sent shockwaves throughout Israel and the world after backing a two-state solution west of the Jordan River, ending years of stalemate on the Palestinian right to self-determination.


Although this is a long-held position of his, Lapid is the first Israeli official in decades to challenge the political stances of hardline Israeli politicians in an international arena, at least since Israel’s fifth premier Yitzhak Rabin, who got assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli right-wing extremist.



Interestingly, Lapid’s surprising remarks seem to have had a puzzling effect on the international media, especially in the US.

The New York Times, a left-leaning newspaper, has done zero reporting (or editorials) on Lapid’s speech, as recent search results on and off the site have shown. This is strange for a newspaper that is located in New York City, where the event took place.

Right-leaning American network, Fox News, sidestepped the whole “two states” controversy by limiting its written coverage to the part about Iran’s threat to Israel, and left out all paragraphs endorsing an agreement to establish an independent Palestinian state.

Wire services, such as Reuters and AFP, focused on Lapid saying that a solution “based on two states for two people” was “the right thing” for Israel’s security and economy.

Conversely, his comments on Gaza appear to have been lost on most US reporters covering the event. Left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and right-wing US website Breitbart were among a handful of news outlets to incorporate Lapid’s quote on Gaza in their news stories.

The quote goes as follows: “I say from here to the people of Gaza, we’re ready to help you build a better life, to build an economy. We presented a comprehensive plan to help rebuild Gaza. We only have one condition: Stop firing rockets and missiles at our children. Put down your weapons, (and) there will be no restrictions.”

Most news websites also chose to focus on the obvious angle of Israeli right-wing politicians attacking Lapid’s stance.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked described the two-state solution as a preamble to a “Palestinian terror state in the heart of the land of Israel”, while Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the premier’s efforts to bring the “Palestinians back to the forefront of the world stage”, even though right-wing governments under Netanyahu had “dropped the Palestinian state from the world agenda”.

Al-Monitor, an independent source of Middle East news and analysis, appears to be alone (among English-speaking media) in its mention of positive reactions by Israeli left-wing leaders, who described Lapid’s speech as “historic” and quintessentially “Zionist”.

On the US front, Lapid’s UN speech has been met with utter silence by senior American politicians, with the exception of a lone tweet by US President Joe Biden who lauded Lapid’s remarks as “courageous”, adding that he “could not agree more”.

Another tweet by Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres, from the Bronx in New York, said the “Israelis and Palestinians each want a state of their own and that is what I support.”

Other than that, internet search engines have yielded no results concerning the reactions of senior officials in the Democratic party. On their Twitter accounts, Vice President Kamala Harris and US Senators Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders have all remained mute with regards to Lapid’s remarks.

A 2021 survey by the Jewish Electorate Institute, led by prominent Jewish Democrats in the US, found that a third of under-40 Jewish-American adults agreed that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians” and more than a third said “Israel is an apartheid state.”

Likewise, Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has stayed silent on the subject (at least on Twitter), while across the aisle, leading Republican and US Senator Ted Cruz has also kept away from tweeting any relevant views.

Several news websites in the US and Israel have also quoted a poorly worded and confusing poll by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) to contest Lapid’s claims that a “large majority of Israelis” — including himself — “support the vision of this two-state solution”. News outlets, including Newsweek and Middle East Eye, have quoted the poll that said “only 32 percent of Jewish Israelis” support a two-state solution.

But, scrolling down the English version of IDI’s brief on the poll, a different, if not contradictory, picture emerges. The page says the recent September 2022 survey showed “36 percent of Israelis do not think that the next government should try to advance a ‘two-state’ solution to resolve the Palestinian conflict”, adding that “this is down from 50 percent in February 2021”.

To translate, according to the poll, Israeli opposition to the two-state solution has dropped from half to only 36 percent of the respondents in the span of a year and a half, a significant decrease of 14 percent that has not been highlighted in mainstream US or Israeli news reports.

Regardless, two US polls conducted in 2021 and 2022 show that the attitudes of young Americans, including US Jewish youth, are distinctly different from those upheld by their elders with regards to Israel and the Palestinians.

A 2021 survey by the Jewish Electorate Institute, led by prominent Jewish Democrats in the US, found that a third of under-40 Jewish-American adults agreed that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians” and more than a third said “Israel is an apartheid state.”

Moreover, a 2022 Pew Research Center poll showed that 56 percent of American adults under 30 have an “unfavorable view of Israel”, with the same age group expressing “warmer views of the Palestinian people than older Americans”.

Lapid seems to have more awareness of the rapid change in young people’s attitudes toward the Israelis and the Palestinians than right-wing politicians. This said, it is too early to gauge the full effect of his unusual speech at the UN, although one thing is certain: Lapid seems to understand that the two-state solution is imminent, as supported by recent indicators.


Ruba Saqr has reported on the environment, worked in the public sector as a communications officer, and served as managing editor of a business magazine, spokesperson for a humanitarian INGO, and as head of a PR agency.

 

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