Netanyahu Tells Biden of Mideast Challenges, Opportunities
JNS.org – In a joint press conference with US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s failure to condemn Tuesday’s Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel.
Speaking of the largest of the attacks, in which 29-year-old American business school student Taylor Force was killed and 11 Israelis were wounded in Jaffa, Netanyahu noted that Abbas’s Fatah party “actually praised this murderer as a hero and a martyr. This is wrong, and this failure to condemn terrorism should be condemned itself by everybody in the international community.”
Netanyahu said that when he and Biden met privately, they discussed the security challenges Israel faces, including Palestinian incitement, the collapse of various regimes across the Middle East, the rise of the Islamic State terror group, and Iran’s growing regional and global aggression.
“But we also see the opportunities, and I think some of them stems from these great challenges,” Netanyahu said, noting that one of the opportunities is “to deepen ties between Israel and the modern Arab states, and this could help us build a solid base for peace and stability.”
America and Israel, said the prime minister, “are stronger when we work together, so I look forward to continue to work together with you and President [Barack] Obama, to strengthen the remarkable and unbreakable alliance between our two countries.”
Military and intelligence collaboration between Washington and Jerusalem has reached “unprecedented” levels, Biden said.
“It doesn’t mean we never disagree, but you never need to doubt that the US has Israel’s back and we know Israel has our back as well. We’re committed to making sure that Israel can defend itself against all serious threats and maintain its qualitative edge….It’s critical because Israel lives in a very, very tough neighborhood,” he said.
Commenting on the American-brokered nuclear deal with Iran, an accord that Israeli officials vehemently oppose, Biden said, “We’re united in the belief that a nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and to the US, and I want to reiterate — I know people still doubt this — if in fact they (the Iranians) break the deal, we will act….Together we are seeking ways to advance our shared security interests and address the new realities of the region.”
Regarding the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the vice president said, “The only way, in my view, to ensure the future of a Jewish, democratic state, is that the status quo has to break somewhere along the line here, in terms of a two-state solution. Even though it may be hard to see the way ahead, we continue to take steps to move back to the path of peace — it’s not easy — for the sake of Israel and for the sake of the Palestinians in the region.”