US Vice-President Joe Biden told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference in Washington DC yesterday that “no political will exists among Israelis or Palestinians” to find a peaceful solution to ongoing hostilities.
Addressing more than 18,000 people at the event, the vice-president also condemned Israeli settlement policies.
Mr Biden, who along with President Barack Obama will step down in January, said lack of interest in peace talks from both sides was “incredibly disappointing, because the only way in my view to guarantee Israel’s future and security, its identity as a Jewish and democratic state, is with a two-state solution”.
The vice-president also criticised the Israeli government’s “steady and systematic process of expanding settlements, legalising outposts and seizing land”.
He said these policies were “eroding, in my view, the prospect of a two-state solution. Bibi (Netanyahu) doesn’t think so. Bibi thinks it can be accommodated, and I believe he believes it. I don’t.”
Mr Biden urged Israel and the Palestinians to “take meaningful steps to demonstrate their commitment to a two-state solution beyond mere words.
“Things must happen now to build confidence. I know Bibi’s talking about it, and I hear it being talked about on the Palestinian side, but there’s got to be a little ‘show-me.’”
Republican presidential candidate and current frontrunner Donald Trump was also implicitly censured by the vice-president, who said that “as the Jewish people know better than any other people, any action that marginalises one religious or ethnic group imperils us all.
“It’s incumbent upon all of us to stand up against those who traffic in pernicious stereotypes, who seek to scare and divide us for political gain, because the future belongs to the bridge builders, not the wall builders.”
Mr Trump has said during his campaign that if elected president, he will legislate for construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border, which he will convince the Mexican government to pay for.
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Mr Trump are due to address the conference on Monday.