US Vice President Joe Biden admitted he feels "overwhelming frustration" with Israel’s government on Monday, adding that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s management has been in the wrong, in an unusual rebuke of America’s closest ally.
Biden gave a speech to the pro-Israel, pro-peace group J Street, expressing little hope for peace efforts during the remainder of the Obama administration.
Biden was firm in his critique of Netanyahu’s government, suggesting his approach raised "profound questions" about how Israel could remain both democratic and Jewish.
"I firmly believe that the actions that Israel's government has taken over the past several years - the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalisation of outposts, land seizures - they're moving us and more importantly they're moving Israel in the wrong direction," Biden said.
He said those policies will take Israel to a "one-state reality" which could be "dangerous."
Biden said it was a US obligation to push Palestine and Israel "as hard as we can" towards a two-state solution despite "our sometimes overwhelming frustration with the Israeli government."
"There is at the moment no political will that I observed from either Israelis or Palestinians to go forward with serious negotiations," Biden said.
Speaking on the context of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, Biden said he opposed such movements, adding that it is not productive for Israel's own security and that it will move the two-state solution "further away."
His remarks came during the US campaign season in which many candidates have displayed strong support for Israel.
Regarding the building of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, Biden said he opposed such actions, adding that they are "counterproductive" for Israel's own security and could move it "further away" from the two-state solution.
Ahead of Tuesday’s primary in New York, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders didn’t stand down from his acknowledgement that Israel in 2014 had used "disproportionate" force to respond to Hamas rocket fire from Gaza, while suggesting the US needs to stop being "one-sided" in its view of the conflict.
In recent weeks, the Obama administration has left open the possibility that it could support a UN resolution laying out parameters for a future peace deal, a possibility that Israel has railed against.
Adding to the criticism of Netanyahu and his Likud party, Biden praised Stab Shaffir, a young member of Israel’s parliament and Netanyahu critic from the left wing of Israeli politics.
"May your views begin to once again become the majority opinion in the Knesset," Biden said.