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Biden blasts Abbas, given up on peace deal

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US Vice-President Joe Biden blasted PA President Mahmoud Abbas' failure to condemn Palestinian acts of terrorism. "No leader has the right to tolerate terrorism," Biden told over 18 000 delegates at the AIPAC 2016 conference. The conference will be addressed by five of the remaining six US presidential candidates, the exception being Bernie Sanders. Biden also said that there was no political will among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward to peace.
by ANT KLATZ | Mar 21, 2016

ABOVE: Biden told AIPAC: "There is no excuse for killing innocents or remaining silent in the face of terrorism" under any circumstances. Biden joked as the event had to be haeld at a sports arena (The Verizon Centre) in Washington DC for the first time to accommodate the record-breaking 18 000-plus activists in attendance.



Israelis and Palestinians must revive their will for peace, US Vice- President Joe Biden told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference in a speech that earned thunderous applause for emotional expressions of affection for Israel.

“There is a lack of political will among Israelis and Palestinians to move forward,” Biden said he had concluded from his talks with both sides during his trip to Israel earlier this month. “And that’s incredibly disappointing.”

Biden has earned his stripes as the Obama administration official most loved by the pro-Israel community over the past seven years. Once again he gave AIPAC the assurance that Israel "will get everything it needs" in the US military aid package.  

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RIGHT: Joe Biden at AIPAC today

The vice-president offered condolences to the families of the Israeli victims of Saturday's suicide bombing in Istanbul, and stressed that the US stands with Israel and Turkey in the fight against terrorism.

Biden said the anxieties Israelis feel about the current threat of attacks is “not imagined, it’s real.” His own family were recently eating in Tel Aviv while a US tourist was stabbed to death very nearby. But he didn’t regret sending his family there. “They need to know what happened, why Israel is so essential,” he said, choking up for a moment. “Israel is a place that creeps into your soul.



Settlements erode prospect of 2-state solution

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

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, DC, was "as happy" as he is about this development.

Biden 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." 

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ABOVE: Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are to address AIPAC on Monday. Senator Bernie Sanders, the lone Jewish candidate for president, said that scheduling considerations forced him to turn down the invite.


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 US "will make sure Israel has the best equipment." The impending US 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 "delegitimise" Israel, including resolutions singling out Israel at the UN and calls for boycott of the state. 

 

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ABOVE: Among those scheduled to address the 18 000 members attending the conference are Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who will speak at the conference on Monday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver his address via satellite on Tuesday


 

JTA reports that the US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down on 14 June 2014, just before a devastating war erupted between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In describing the conditions behind the loss of will for peace-making, Biden emphasised repeatedly the need for Palestinians and others in the Arab world to end incitement.

“No matter what the disagreements the Palestinian people may have with Israel, there is no excuse for killing innocents or remaining silent in the face of terrorism,” Biden said.

The VP said he delivered that message to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, earning the conference’s first standing ovation. “The terrorism has to stop, the incitement … it must stop,” said Biden, who, at 73, jogged onto the stage, but whose voice was hoarse.

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ABOVE: A good portion of Biden's speech before the record crowd was devoted to condemning terrorism and incitement, and to warning the Palestinians not to seek statehood unilaterally.




But, said Biden, Israel too should refrain from acts that would scuttle a peace plan.

He cited “steady and systematic” settlement expansion and the sanctioning of illegal settlement outposts under the government of Netanyahu. The remarks earned Biden a scattering of boos from across the cavernous hall.

Biden tied anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe, to the “seemingly organised” effort to delegitimise Israel, condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the country to the rising tide of anti-Semitism.

 “No nation is immune from criticism, but it should not be singled out,” he said.

Joe Biden stridently defended President Barack Obama’s Israel record. “Israel is stronger and more secure today because of the Obama and Biden administration, period,” he said, alluding to the tensions that have beset the relationship between the president, the lobby and Netanyahu. “Not despite it, but because of it.”

Of the current round of talks between Israel and the United States over expanding defence assistance for Israel, he said, “Israel may not get everything it asks for, but it will get everything it needs.”

Biden told of a recent experience, that of finding out that his wife, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren were dining just half a mile away from a stabbing spree in Tel Aviv earlier this month that killed an American tourist.

“It’s not imagined, it’s real,” he said of the anxieties Israelis feel. He said people asked him why he brought his grandchildren to Israel, considering the risks, and he said for the same reason he brought them to Dachau to understand the Holocaust.

“They need to know what happened, why Israel is so essential,” he said, choking up for a moment. “Israel is a place that creeps into your soul.”

1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 22 Mar
    Biden is part of the problem. That is why a Republican must win the election, in order to get new impetus into the middle east. ( by kicking backsides of states that hero worship terrorists). Abbas, and that garbage in Gaza, and Nasrallah in Lebenon, need more lessons in etiquette.  

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