March 10th, 2010
10:29 AM ET
12 years ago

Biden: U.S. won't play favorites between Israel, Palestinians

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Joe Biden said the U.S. won't play favorites Wednesday while visiting the Middle East."]Ramallah, West Bank (CNN) - The United States will hold both Israel and the Palestinians responsible for any steps that make peace between them more difficult, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday.

Biden, in the region meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders, repeated strong criticism he made of an Israeli move a day earlier.

He said Tuesday he "condemned" Israel's decision to build 1,600 new apartments on land which both Israel and the Palestinians claim.

The Palestinians contend the area is in East Jerusalem; Israel's Interior Ministry says it is not.

"The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel," Biden said Tuesday.

His unusually blunt criticism came after Israel and the Palestinians had agreed earlier in the week to indirect talks to be carried out with U.S. Envoy George Mitchell.

In announcing that both sides had agreed to start the indirect talks - a step toward prospective direct negotiations - Mitchell called on Israel and the Palestinians to avoid any actions that would threaten the talks or their outcome.

Wednesday, Biden repeated that the construction plan undermines the trust needed to reach a peace deal. "We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not to complicate them," he said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said his side appreciated "the strong statement of condemnation by the U.S. administration."

Biden met with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister now acting as representative of the "Quartet" of powers pushing for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, on Wednesday before meeting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Neither Biden nor Abbas took questions from the media in their joint appearance.

Biden arrived in Israel Monday and met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Jerusalem, he insisted that Washington's position on Israeli security was identical to the Jewish state's own.

"There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel's security - none at all," Biden said.

Peres called Biden a "true friend" of Israel, and Biden said, "It's good to be home."

Biden is the highest-ranking member of the Obama administration yet to visit Israel.

He is scheduled to deliver a major speech at Tel Aviv University Thursday titled "The Enduring Partnership Between the United States and Israel."

Biden also plans a one-day trip to Jordan at the end of the week, when he will meet with King Abdullah.

- CNN's Shira Medding and Kevin Flower contributed to this report.

Filed under: Joe Biden • Middle East
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Albo58

    Won't play favorites? I think we should side with the ones that DON'T blow up cars in residential neighborhoods! Biden is such a fool!

    March 10, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. kwame

    I'm tired of us sending our tax dollars to Israel, in support of them oppresing the Palestinians. They denounce our approach to the peace process and order more construction on occupied land; yet, we're still sending them money we borrow from other people. If they can't help us proceed with the peace process, maybe we should stop sending them money and let them handle their own business. I'm tired of the US helping Israel but turning a blind eye to the Palestinians' suffering.

    And not to forget, we're sending them money, yet they're imposing tarrifs on our goods exported to their country (fish export to Israel)

    March 10, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. Marc

    The extremists in both sides are always doing their best to undermine any chance of peace between them, the USA cannot take a side because of the extremists, but can and must do its best to reduce the power and influence of said extremists.

    March 10, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. buckwheat

    This is good.Harry Truman should have been this smart and we would not be up to our belts in the Middle East now.

    March 10, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. Dutch

    Israel needs to put a halt on buildng settlements if they are serious about these negotiations. No wonder why Palestinians are so pissed off at them. I'd be too if we are negotiating on peace deal, which all revolves around geography, and Israel keeps building. That's working in reverse.

    March 10, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Ben in Texas

    If Biden is telling the truth, then let's see some serious sanctions against Israel. Let's stop subsidizing them with money and military gear. Let's embargo all their products. Let's condemn them in the U.N. That should be the least we can do to protest the gradual holocaust Israel is perpetrating against the Palestinians, whose land they have progressively stolen over the past 60 years.

    March 10, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. It's clear now that Obama.....

    and Biden are anti-Israel as they clearly condemned that country yesterday. Notice that Obama has never visited Israel as president although he's been to many Arab countries.

    Jews can read about this and weep about how they voted in 08'.

    March 10, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Dean

    Obama can travel the world on worthless missions but he sends his idiot sidekick on peace missions.

    March 10, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. Whatever

    We should give in to terrorist!

    March 10, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Ridgeway

    Well, there you have it Liberal Jewish voters. Be careful what you wish for as some times you get it. Obama is pro-Muslim so what his stooge Biden says is on his behalf. The only support you've got is what you're wearing.

    March 10, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Rickster

    The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 22% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That matches the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President.

    Another brilliant democrat idea failed.

    March 10, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Monkey wrench

    Hey wait a minute Joe, what if those 1600 apartments are rented to some of those Palestinians? Hey, any Obama and Hillary updates on that pesky old Iran and their nuke program?

    March 10, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    Well, our entanglement in the Middle East has worked out so incredibly well so far that we are now getting entangled in the Israel-Palestine perpetual disaster?

    Both sides are so radicalized that there is virtually no hope for anything other than a continuation of bloodshed.

    March 10, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. terry,va.

    Obummie is a Muslim. He is not even neutral in middle east politics. He views Israel as an enemy to his Muslim buddies. Israel needs to do what they can to protect themselves starting with thumbing their nose at Obummie.

    March 10, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Ariana, VA

    Ummm, it's pretty clear who the favorite is.

    March 10, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. cjr

    it is time to stop supporting Israel – we cannot afford it any longer! Birth rates among Palestinens will make this a moot point in the near future. Israel's conduct in the mid east has made them no friends and we need to let them stand or fall on their own.

    March 10, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Sheena

    Now this Administration is breaking ties with our allies?
    Who is to be our next Allie, The Muslim Nation???

    March 10, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. Sniffit

    Uh oh...Jowly Lieberman and the GOP demogogue choire are all gonna poop an alien over the administration making that statement.

    March 10, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. DaveF

    The majority of the US citizens do not realize that the most Holy site of Judism (the Western Wall) is in East Jerusalem and basically attached to the Al Aqsa Mosque. To give up the Wall to the Palistanians would be like the Muslims giving up Mecca or the Christians giving the Vatican to Israel. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!!! Until the '67 War the Jews were not allowed to pray at the Wall by Jordan. If any Ameicans do not believe the above take a look at a good map of that area. I spent 2 years in Israel working for the US and realized that there was much I did not know about the ongoing conflict but I found out very quickly many truths and not the lies that we get from the media. To date I have never seen the Media(s) tell us about the above. Besides how would any American feel if they were bombed on a daily basis and never knowing when a suicide murderer would set off a bomb?

    March 10, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    He might not, but it is for sure that his power crazed boss will and America will pay dearly for it one way or another. In case you can't tell folks it is the Obozo way. Biden is just to stupid to know it. He makes a perfect vice president for the idiot president. Plausible deniability.

    March 10, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. sensibloe Cape Coral FL

    How can we possibly contiune to support Israel when they consistently violate International Law?

    March 10, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  22. Rick McDaniel

    The Israelis have made the effort many times. The Palestinians have never agreed to peace. It is that simple.

    The Israelis have to move on. Some of us, understand that after 50 yrs. of trying, you eventually just give up the cause.

    March 10, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |