US Vice President Joe Biden
US Vice President Joe BidenIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Vice President Joe Biden addressed the general assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America in New Orleans on Sunday, where he stressed that the Obama administration backs Israel.

Biden said that the Obama administration “represents an unbroken chain in American leaders who have understood this critical strategic relationship” between the United States and Israel, and added that “the ties between our countries are literally unbreakable.”

“Our common values are interwoven in our cultures, in our mutual interests, none more urgent than the shared struggle against discourage of violent extremism and terrorists,” said Biden, who brought examples of the U.S. supporting Israel’s right to defend itself: Withdrawing from the Durban Conference, supporting Israel’s right to conduct its own investigation into Operation Cast Lead following the Goldstone Report, and consistency opposing anti-Israeli resolutions in the U.N. Human Rights Council and General Assembly in UNESCO.

Biden described past differences between the U.S. and Israel as “tactical in nature, never fundamental,” and added that President Obama “feels exactly the same way as I do.” He spoke out against any effort to delegitimize Israel, and said that any effort to take away Israel's right to existence would be met with “unshakable resistance from the United States,” while stressing that “we will not yield a single inch.”

The Vice President said that the spotlight must be kept on genuine threats in the Middle East, such as Iran, and said that although the Obama administration remains open to diplomacy with Iran, the U.S. had backed sanctions against the Islamic Republic and would work to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Prior to his speech before the general assembly, Biden met for about an hour with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss the peace negotiations in the Middle East. While he did not go into detail about what he and Netanyahu talked about, Biden did say that Netanyahu agreed that there was “no substitute for direct face-to-face negotiations leading eventually to states where two peoples are secure: A Jewish state and a viable, independent state of Palestine.”

Netanyahu addressed the general assembly himself on Monday, and said that the international community “owes Israel an apology” for the allegations in the Goldstone Report, calling it “a modern-day blood libel”.

Netanyahu focused on Iran for much of his speech, stressing that “a nuclear Iran is the greatest threat to Israel and to the world,” and that ultimately, the threat of military intervention from the U.S. might be needed to stop the Iranian nuclear program.