Biden to speak directly to Israelis from Tel Aviv
Biden visit to Israel next week aimed reaching consensus on stopping Iran nukes, says Senator Kerry.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will address the Israeli public directly next week during a speech he is scheduled to deliver at Tel Aviv University, focusing on American commitment to Israel's security, Iran's nuclear program and the peace process.
Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday in Jerusalem that Biden is seeking to ensure that Israel and the United States are in alignment on the issue of preventing the Iranian nuclear threat.
Kerry, who is privy to the details of efforts to impose sanctions on Iran, hinted Monday at a press conference in Jerusalem after a meeting with the prime minister that Biden's visit to Israel, and that of other senior administration officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, aims at restraining Israel against the possibility of unilaterally attacking Iran.
To date the U.S. administration has not made a serious effort to reach out to the Israeli public, unlike addresses by President Barack Obama aimed at the Arab and Muslim world. Obama will continue to convey his message, which began during speeches in Turkey and Egypt, with another during an official visit to Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country.
Obama has also not yet visited Israel as U.S. president.
Biden is due in Israel on March 8, for a three-day visit that will also include the Palestinian Authority.
An Israeli political source has told Haaretz that Biden would like "to make a speech that is important and significant for Israeli-American relations."
The political portion of his visit will likely concentrate on the Iranian nuclear question, with Biden stressing before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. expects Israel to assist in the effort to foil, using diplomatic means, Iran's nuclear ambitions through the imposition of effective sanctions at the UN Security Council, thus avoiding unilateral steps that may include an attack on Iran's nuclear installations.
In response to a question on whether the U.S. is concerned about the possibility of such Israeli action, Senator Kerry said Monday that "the prime minister is more than aware through his conversations with the Secretary of State and the President himself, as well as just through his own common sense - I think he is very tuned in to not being rash or jumping the gun here or doing something that doesn't give those other opportunities a chance."
Kerry explained that one of the reasons for the sort of dialogue that has been taking place with the visits of U.S. officials and "one of the reasons that I am here and other people were here and VP Biden is coming shortly - is to make sure we are all on the same page and that we are all clear about what time frames may exist or what threat levels may be real or unreal and what options may be on the table for us. I think we are on the same page and I found the prime minister tremendously supportive of the initiatives that we are taking right now, and other countries are taking, and very hopeful that they can have an impact."