Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and slammed arch-foe Iran for "conducting an orchestra of hate."
Lapid opened his address to the international forum by hailing the achievements of the Jewish State in its 74 years of existence.
"In November 1947 this General Assembly gathered and decided upon the creation of a Jewish State. Only a few hundred thousand Jews lived in Israel at the time, in hostile surroundings, shocked and devastated after the Holocaust in which six million of our people were murdered," he said.
"75 years later, Israel is a strong liberal democracy. Proud and prosperous. The Start-Up Nation that invented Waze and Iron Dome, medicines for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and a robot which can perform spinal surgery. A world leader in water and food-tech, cyber defense and renewable energy. With 13 Nobel prize winners in literature and chemistry, economics and peace.
How did this happen? It happened because we decided not to be a victim. We chose not to dwell on the pain of the past. But rather to focus on the hope of the future. We chose to invest our energies into building a nation. Into building a happy society, optimistic and creative. We didn’t only reach the Promised Land, we are building the Promised Land. History is determined by people. We need to understand history, respect it and learn from it. But also to be willing and able to change it. To choose the future over the past. Peace over war. Partnership over seclusion and isolation."
He continued his speech by praising the country's diversity, which he described as an "incredible, cultural mosaic."
"In the government which I lead, there are Arab Ministers. There is an Arab party as a member of our coalition. We have Arab judges in our Supreme Court. Arab doctors saving lives in our hospitals. Israeli Arabs are not our enemies, they are our partners in life. Come and visit us," he said.
"You will discover that Israel is an incredible, cultural mosaic. From the white snowy mountains of the Golan to the white desert sand of the Negev. From Tel Aviv, the high-tech capital, a non-stop party on the Mediterranean Sea. To Jerusalem, our eternal capital, the holy city for three religions, in whose beautiful streets the past meets the future every single day."
He went on to chide Iran for "conducting an orchestra of hate" against Israel, and called to prevent Tehran from laying its hands on nuclear arms.
"Conducting this orchestra of hate, is Iran. For more than forty years now, in the town squares and on the streets of Iran, demonstrators have been photographed burning Israeli and American flags. Ask yourselves: Where are the flags coming from? How did they get so many of our flags? The answer is: They are manufacturing them especially. Just so they can burn them. This is what an industry of hate looks like. This is a regime that systematically deals with hatred," he said.
"If the Iranian regime gets a nuclear weapon, they will use it. The only way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, is to put a credible military threat on the table. And then – and only then – to negotiate a Longer and Stronger deal with them. It needs to be made clear to Iran, that if it advances its nuclear program, the world will not respond with words, but with military force. Every time a threat like that was put on the table in the past, Iran stopped, and retreated. Today, the world is choosing the easy option. It chooses not to believe the worst, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Israel does not have this privilege. This time we are not standing empty-handed against those who want to destroy us."
Lapid then expressed his support for a two-state solution to the more-than-a-century-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Israel’s economic and military strength allows us to protect ourselves but it also allows us something else: To strive for peace with the entire Arab world. And with our closest neighbors – the Palestinians," he said.
"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. Peace is not a compromise. It is the most courageous decision we can make. Peace is not weakness. It embodies within it the entire might of human spirit. War is surrender to all that is bad within us. Peace is the victory of all that is good.
Despite all the obstacles, still today a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two-state solution. I am one of them. We have only one condition: 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."