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Biden Stresses US Commitment to Israel

Monday, 08 November 2010 06:49 AM

US Vice President Joe Biden delivered an impassioned speech in support of Israel at the Jewish Federations of North American’s General Assembly in New Orleans on Sunday, saying whatever differences have recently existed between the White House and Jerusalem these were tactical rather than fundamental.

He reiterated what he said was the Obama administration’s deep commitment to Israel’s security and to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“When it comes to Israel’s security there can be no daylight –no daylight– between Israel and the US,” he said.

Biden’s conciliatory tone towards Jerusalem came perhaps in response to controversy which emerged during his last visit to Israel, when he criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government for allowing construction in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

The vice president referred to the discord during that visit, said the disagreement back then was settled in a private meeting with Netanyahu.

Iran, which has is defiantly engaged in a nuclear program and threatened Israel’s existence, featured prominently in his address.

“It is critical to keep the international spot light on the genuine threats to the Israel like the Iranian nuclear program, not Israel,” Biden said.

Earlier in the day the vice president met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who raised the threat posed by the Islamic Republic.

In his speech Biden also upheld the Palestinians’ right to their own country, saying that objective was in line with Israel’s as well.

“There is no substitute for direct face to face negotiations leading to two states, a secure state for Israel and one for Palestine,” he said.

Biden’s address got off to a precarious start. Just before he began talking a man in the audience yelled out calling on the vice president to help build a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which would be built instead of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The crowd of hundreds of Jewish delegates let out a collective sigh of disappointment and Biden ignored the remark proceeding unhindered with his speech.

Biden, who was first elected in 1972 to the Senate, told his audience the story about his encounter with then Israeli prime minister Golda Meir on his first visit to Israel. He recalled how the U.S.-born Israeli politician told him her famous that the Jews’ secret weapon was that they have nowhere to go right before a joint press conference.

“I thought she said it only to me but turns out she said it to thousands of people,” he said. “All these years later I still feel that our support for Israel must continue forever.”

'Only credible military threat will stop Iran nuclear race'

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu stressed to the US that only a credible military threat can halt Teheran’s nuclear program.

“The only way to ensure that Iran is not armed with nuclear weapons is to create a credible threat of military action against it, unless it stops its race to obtain nuclear weapons,” the prime minister told Biden, according to diplomatic officials.

Netanyahu words mark a sharp escalation from his past statements on Iran, which have focused more on the need for diplomatic measures such as harsh economic sanctions, rather than military deterrence.

In his meeting with Biden, Netanyahu insisted that although economic sanctions have made it difficult for Teheran, there is no sign that they have caused the ayatollahs’ regime to halt its nuclear program.

Sanctions have affected the regime but have not persuaded Teheran to drop its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said.

“The only time that Iran stopped its nuclear program was in 2003, and that was when they believed that there was a real chance of an American military strike against them,” Netanyahu told Biden, according to diplomatic sources.

“Paradoxically, only a real military threat against Iran can prevent the need to activate a real military force,” the prime minister said.

According to diplomatic sources, Netanyahu said, “Iran is attempting to mislead the West and there are worrying signs that the international community is captivated by this mirage.”

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Monday, 08 November 2010 06:49 AM
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