Speaking at the gala dinner of J Street, a George Soros-funded Mideast advocacy group that is critical of Israeli policies, Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged “overwhelming frustration” with Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, saying the prime minister is leading the Jewish state in the wrong direction.
The Associated Press, reporting from the event, viewed the comments as an “unusually sharp rebuke of America’s closest ally in the Middle East.”
Continued the AP:
Although he said both Israelis and Palestinians shared blame for undermining trust and shirking responsibility, he was emphatic in his critique of Netanyahu’s government, suggested his approach raised “profound questions” about how Israel could remain both Jewish and democratic.
“I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they’re moving us and more importantly they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction,” Biden said.
He said those policies were moving Israel toward a “one-state reality” — meaning a single state for Palestinians and Israelis in which eventually, Israeli Jews will no longer be the majority.
“That reality is dangerous,” Biden added.
Biden’s characterization of Netanyahu’s policies seems not to take into account that the prime minister made unprecedented “confidence building” gestures toward Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a failed attempt to get the Palestinians to the bargaining table. These gestures have included the release of Palestinian terrorist murderers and the freezing of Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Abbas didn’t budge.
The AP continued:
Biden, who met in March with both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said he came away from that trip discouraged about prospects for peace anytime soon. Still, he said it was the U.S. obligation to guarantee Israel’s security and to “push them as hard as we can” toward a two-state solution despite “our sometimes overwhelming frustration with the Israeli government.”
“There is at the moment no political will that I observed from either Israelis or Palestinians to go forward with serious negotiations,” Biden said.
By comparing the Israelis with the Palestinians, Biden seems to be ignoring the Palestinians’ long-standing history of rejecting Israeli peace offers, many times without making counteroffers. In 2000, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David collapsed when Yasser Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern sections of Jerusalem and instead returned to the Middle East to launch an intifada, or terrorist war, against the Jewish state. In 2008, Abbas walked away from U.S.-brokered peace talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, again without making a counteroffer.
Biden also used his speech to make the standard U.S. demand that Abbas condemn terrorism.
Added the AP:
Biden also singled out Palestinian leaders, including Abbas, for declining to condemn specific acts of terrorism carried out against Israelis, in a nod to the seven-month wave of Palestinian stabbings and other attacks. He said he didn’t know whether Monday’s bus explosion that wounded scores in Jerusalem was a terrorist attack, but added that the U.S. condemns “misguided cowards” who resort to violence.
“No matter what legitimate disagreements the Palestinian people have with Israel, there is never justification for terrorism,” Biden said. “No leader should fail to condemn as terrorists those who commit such brutalities.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.