JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s call for a two-state solution was a “positive development” but said the proof would be an immediate return to negotiations.
“The true test of the credibility and seriousness of this stance is for the Israeli government to return to the negotiation table immediately,” he told the UN General Assembly, in a speech that largely lambasted Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza – areas that Palestinians seek for an independent state – in the 1967 Middle East war. US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.
Efforts to reach a two-state deal, which involves an Israeli and Palestinian state existing side by side, have long been stalled.
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.
Lapid’s mention of a two-state formula was the first by an Israeli leader on the United Nations stage in years and echoed US 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 the two-state solution.
(Reporting by Henriette Chacar in Jerusalem, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by James Mackenzie and Catherine Evans)