Israel may not get all the military assistance it wants, but it will get all the military assistance it needs, said U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday.
President Obama’s right-hand man, speaking to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, used his speech to 18,000 activists to manage Israeli expectations in terms of weaponry from Washington.
The next U.S. aid package, about which representatives have been locked in negotiations for months, “will be without a doubt the most generous security package in the history of the Unites States,” said Biden. He added: “Israel may not get everything it asks for, but it will get everything it needs.”
Biden, who is perhaps Israel’s strongest supporter in the Obama administration, offered condolences to the families of those killed in a terrorist attack in Istanbul on Saturday, but had harsh words for the Netanyahu government.
He criticised Israel’s “steady and systematic process of expanding settlements, legalising outposts, seizing land,” and said this was “eroding, in my view, the prospect of a two-state solution”.
In perhaps his sharpest comment, he laid the blame for a lack of peace partly at Israel’s door, saying there was “no political will” from Israel or the Palestinians “to move forward with serious negotiations… that’s incredibly disappointing”.
The vice president turned on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his role in the current wave of violence, saying “there is no excuse for staying silent,” and sided against efforts to “delegitimise” Israel, pointing out the Obama administration’s diplomatic support and its effort to curtail Israel boycotts.
Following him on the podium will be presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, while from Israel opposition leader Isaac Herzog will address the conference a day before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will speak via satellite on Tuesday.