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Biden: U.S. Opposes Unilateral Moves

By Yitzhak Benhorin, YNet

8.11.2010
Via YNet (Click for original.)
 
US Vice President Joe Biden backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night, shortly after meeting with him in New Orleans, Louisiana, but reminded him of the need to advance the peace process with the Palestinians.
 
Addressing an audience of thousands of Jews, Biden called on Israel and the Palestinians to avoid any unilateral moves, and stressed that although the United States was committed to Israel's security and would do all it could to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – peace between Israel and its neighbors must be guaranteed in the long run.
 
Biden spoke at the Jewish Federations of North America annual gathering in New Orleans following his 90-minute meeting with Netanyahu, which was defined as "warm". He cautioned both sides from taking unilateral actions "that will prejudice the outcome of these negotiations," and said that the US is working to renew the peace talks as soon as possible.
 
In his speech, Biden hinted to an Israeli construction freeze in West Bank settlements on the one hand, and the Palestinian threat to seek recognition for an independent state through the United Nations.
 
During an earlier meeting, Netanyahu claimed that as long as the Palestinians have the option of turning to the UN Security Council, they would not be serious in regards to the peace talks.
 
The prime minister told the US vice president that without direct negotiations there would be no use in discussing an agreement, and that there was a need for a peace deal with the Palestinians that would not be imposed from above but established on security arrangements on the ground in accordance with the security guaranteed.
 
On the backdrop of the recent deadlock in the talks, due to Israel's refusal to resume the building freeze, the Palestinians have once again raised the option of turning to international institutions and seeking unilateral recognition in a Palestinian state.
 
In his Sunday night speech, Biden promised the Jewish leaders that regardless of the outcome of the direct talks, "the ties between our two countries are literally unbreakable."
 
He stressed that the Obama administration had done more for Israel's security than any other previous US administration, noting that the current president increased the security aid to Jerusalem to support the anti-rocket defense system.
 
'Critical strategic relationship'
 
Biden stressed the strong relationship between the US and Israel, saying he felt "absolutely certain that our support for Israel must continue ... forever." He added that Netanyahu was a friend.
 
"I can tell you – and I'm sure he (Netanyahu) will tell you as well – that the disagreements when they existed have only been tactical in nature, they have never been fundamental," Biden said, referring to Israel's announcement during his visit that it was building 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem.
 
He discussed his meeting with Netanyahu, in which the two leaders reiterated that "when it comes to Israel’s security there can be no daylight between the US and Israel."
 
"This administration represents an unbroken chain of American leaders who have understood this critical strategic relationship – one in which we will not yield one single inch," Biden said, adding that President Barack Obama "feels exactly the same way as I do."
 
Biden stressed, however, that "while the United States will continue to do whatever we can to defend Israel's legitimacy, whenever and wherever it is questioned, we all know that the only true way for it to gain the long-term security it seeks and deserves is through genuine, secure peace with its neighbors. There is no substitute for direct, face-to-face negotiations.