White House Defends Biden’s Criticism of Netanyahu

US Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a speech, on March 11, 2010 at the Tel Aviv university, in Israel.
Uriel Sinai/Getty

TEL AVIV  – Following Vice President Joe Biden’s damning remarks about the Israeli government, the White House said that disagreements between Israel and the U.S. are “a matter of policy.”

“When you have a strong relationship with your allies, you can also comfortably disagree in public,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday. “And there are areas of disagreement as a matter of policy between our two countries.”

On Monday evening Biden said that the Obama administration felt “overwhelming frustration” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

He continued by saying that Israel’s policy on settlements were “dangerous” and would result in a “one-state reality.”

“I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over 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 made his remarks to J Street, an advocacy group that many Israelis and Jewish Americans accuse of being anti-Israel.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Biden’s remarks are some of the most critical to date about a close ally – even taking into account President Barack Obama’s frosty relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an instance of tit for tat, Earnest’s remarks on Tuesday included the fact that Netanyahu in the past has also been guilty of publicly criticizing American policies.

Earnest pointed to Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress in which the prime minister encouraged members of Congress to reject a nuclear deal with Iran.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has not hesitated to make his own differences with the Obama administration public on in some ways the largest stage imaginable, which is by addressing a joint session of Congress,” Earnest told reporters.


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