Israeli settlements weaken two-state solution, Biden says

United States Vice President Joe Biden says Israeli settlement weakens two-state solution in region

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Vice President Joe Biden is seen on large video screens as he addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Sunday, March 20, 2016.

The United States Vice President, Joe Biden, called on Israel's government on Sunday to show its commitment to a two-state solution to end the conflict with the Palestinians and said that the settlement expansion is weakening prospects for peace.

"Israel's government's steady and systematic process of expanding settlements, legalising outposts, seizing land, is eroding in my view the prospect of a two-state solution," Biden said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] which is the country’s largest pro-Israel political organisation.

Biden said that he is pessimist on a solution about the conflict, citing his trip to the region and meetings with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

“I must tell you straight up I didn’t walk away encouraged,” he said. “The current prospects for peace are not heartening.”

Biden continued, “There is no political will among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward at this moment with serious negotiations, and that’s incredibly disappointing.”

The vice president showed his disagreement with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s government that expanded settlements would not interfere with any effort to settle the conflict.

"Bibi [Netanyahu] thinks it can be accommodated, and I believe he believes it. I don't," Biden said.

Biden also expressed his concerns about the region which dangerously seems to be moving toward a one-state solution.

An Israeli soldier stand guard as settlers move into a house disputed over by Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron April 13, 2014 (Reuters)

The US supports a two-state solutions to end the decade’s long conflict in the key Middle East region.

"There is no political will at this moment among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward with serious negotiations. And that's incredibly disappointing," Biden said.

Israel says it intends to keep large settlement blocs in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Recently Israel decided to confiscate 2,340 dunams of land near Ariha in the West Bank, which has been under its occupation since 1967.

Israeli settlements drove an outrage in Palestinians which is one of factors behind the collapse of US-led peace talks in 2014, and a surge of violence over the past five months that has dimmed hopes that negotiations could be revived any time soon.

"We've stressed to both parties the need to take meaningful steps to demonstrate their commitment to a two-state solution that extends beyond mere words," Biden said.

"There's got to be a little 'show-me.' This cannot continue to erode," he said.

Biden said that the cooperation against DAESH terrorist group could help thaw relations between Israel and its neighbours.

Military Assistance

Speaking at the AIPAC, Biden stated that the United States and Israel are in the process of talks over a generous military assistance agreement.

"It will, without a doubt, be the most generous security assistance package in the history of the United States," Biden said of a pact expected to be worth billions of dollars annually to the Jewish state, the largest recipient of such US assistance.

"Israel may not get everything it asks for, but it will get everything it needs," Biden added.

TRTWorld and agencies