Biden Tells AIPAC: No Political Will Among Israelis or Palestinians to Move Forward to Peace

VP says Iran is much further from a nuclear weapon than it was a year ago, asserts Israel may not get everything it asks for in the U.S. military aid package, 'but it will get everything it needs.'

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Then Vice President Joe Biden addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington. March 20, 2016
Then Vice President Joe Biden addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington. March 20, 2016Credit: AP
Haaretz
Reuters

Vice President Joe Biden addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference on Sunday, warning that Israel and the Palestinians are moving toward a one-state reality and promising Israel "will gets everything it needs" in the U.S. military aid package.

Biden offered condolences to the families of the victims of Saturday's suicide bombing in Istanbul, and stressed that the U.S. stands with Israel and Turkey in the fight against terrorism.

Speaking about the nuclear deal with Iran, Biden said that "as of today Iran is much, much further from obtaining a nuclear weapon than they were a year ago." He expressed hope his audience at the pro-Israel group's conference in Washington, D.C., was "as happy" as he is about this development.

He stressed again that "under this deal Iran would never be allowed to pursue nuclear weapons, never, never, never," and vowed that "if Iran violates the deal, the United States will act."

Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Biden said he saw "no political will at this moment among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward with serious negotiations. And that's incredibly disappointing."

Credit: AIPAC

The vice president blasted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' failure to condemn Palestinian acts of terrorism. "No leader has the right to tolerate terrorism," he said.

"There is no excuse for killing innocents or remaining silent in the face of terrorism," he added.

But he also slammed Israel's "steady and systematic process of expanding settlements, legalizing outposts, seizing land," which he said is "eroding in my view the prospect of a two-state solution."

Biden said he did not agree with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's view that settlement expansion would not interfere with efforts to settle the conflict. "Bibi (Netanyahu) thinks it can be accommodated, and I believe he believes it. I don't," Biden said.

He warned that trends on the ground indicate advancement toward a one-state reality, and expressed the "need to work on renewing the will for peace."

"We've stressed to both parties the need to take meaningful steps to demonstrate their commitment to a two-state solution that extends beyond mere words," Biden said.

"There's got to be a little 'show-me.' This cannot continue to erode," he said.

Referring to the military aid negotiations, Biden said the U.S. "will make sure Israel has the best equipment." The impending U.S. aid package "will be without a doubt the most generous security package in the history of the Unites States," he said.

"Israel may not get everything it asks for, but it will get everything it needs," Biden added.

"It's about making sure Israel will always exist, strong and capable, as the ultimate guarantor for the Jewish people around the world," Biden continued. He asserted that "it is our moral obligation" to ensure that "Never, never, never again. And without Israel, there is no guarantee."

Biden also took a stand against efforts to "delegitimize" Israel, including resolutions singling out Israel at the UN and calls for boycott of the state.

According to the organizers, some 18,000 are attending the event.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are to address AIPAC on Monday. Bernie Sanders is skipping the event.

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog will speak at the conference on Monday as well. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver his address via satellite on Tuesday.

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