Vice President Joe Biden touted President Obama’s record of support for Israel during a celebration of the country’s independence on Thursday.
“No president has ever done more to support Israel’s security than President Barack Obama. Just look at the facts. Each time a rocket has rained down from Gaza, President Obama stands up before the world and defends Israel’s right to defend itself like any other nation,” Biden said at the Embassy of Israel’s annual Independence Day celebration.
Under Obama, Biden said Congress has provided $20 billion in military assistance to Israel along with cutting-edge weaponry.
“As president, he stood in Jerusalem and declared to the whole world, quote, ‘Those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above because Israel is not going anywhere so long as the United States of America is there, Israel will never be alone.’ He means it. You know I mean it. I’m telling you he means it,” Biden said.
“That’s my president. He understands the need for Israel to have the right and the capacity and the capability to defend itself. At the same time, he says we have Israel’s back and you can count on that. The same commitment to the survival, the security of Israel is fundamental to our strategy for the entire Middle East,” he added.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, introduced Biden at the event.
“I am confident that the security challenges America and Israel will face together and the innovation America and Israel will create together will pull our countries even closer together in the years and decades ahead,” he said.
Defending Obama’s outreach to Iran, Biden drew a contrast between Obama and former President George W. Bush.
Biden said Obama made sure the U.S. spent the time and money to develop the capacity required to “act against” Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon if ever needed.
“We know the cost of not negotiating. Midway through the last administration, the U.S. government refused to directly engage. It insisted at the same time that Iran dismantle its entire program. The result – by the time President Bush left office, Iran had dramatically advanced its movement toward the ability to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said.
“We’ve taken a different approach, combining unprecedented pressure and direct diplomacy to find an enduring solution. Negotiations began and have come a long way,” he added.
Biden cautioned that the parameters put forward are only a framework and not a final deal with Iran.
“If the final deal on the table doesn’t meet the president’s requirements, we simply will not sign it. A final deal must effectively cut off Iran’s pathway to a bomb and if it doesn’t, no deal,” he said. “A final deal must ensure a breakout timeline at least for one year for at least a decade. If it doesn’t, no deal.”
Biden declared that the U.S. would respond if Iran cheats at any time and goes for a nuclear weapon.
“Every option we have to respond today remains on the table and your military will tell you and more,” he said.
Biden said he has been involved in arms control agreements since he was a “kid in the Senate at 30 years of age.” He compared the current situation with Iran to arms control talks with the Soviet Union and other regimes the U.S. has fundamentally disagreed with, saying the U.S. negotiated to prevent a nuclear war.
“It kept us safer and that’s what we’re attempting to do today,” he said.
Biden said a two-state solution is “essential to Israel’s long-term survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”
“The United States stands ready to help Israel if they decide how to get there and if they want our help in getting there,” he said.