The White House on Tuesday backed the harsh remarks against Israel made by Vice President Joe Biden a day earlier.
Biden, who addressed the J Street conference in Washington, expressed what he called the Obama administration’s “overwhelming frustration” with Israel.
“The present course Israel’s on is not one that’s likely to secure its existence as a Jewish, democratic state – and we have to make sure that happens,” Biden said, before going on to criticize Israel over a host of issues.
Despite a partial freeze on construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Biden attacked Israeli actions over the Green Line and also openly expressed the hope that the Israeli left win back control of the Knesset.
Asked Tuesday about Biden’s comments, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “I think what is true is that this administration, particularly Secretary Kerry and Vice President Biden and President Obama, have all expended significant time and energy and resources to facilitating conversations between the Israelis and Palestinians to find a two-state solution. That is a policy that American Presidents in both parties have pursued, and none have pursued it more aggressively than this administration.”
“There certainly is frustration with both sides that we have encountered,” continued Earnest, “but we’ve also been clear that — and this is what Vice President Biden I think is ultimately talking about here — the United States has long supported the idea of a two-state solution because it has a potential to resolve one of the most combustible flashpoints in an already volatile region of the world. But it also happens to be in the clear strategic interest of our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel.”
“So resolving this question is not just a wished-for legacy item of the administration. It is a position that we take and advocate for because of our sincere concern for the national security of our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel. That’s what we’re focused on. And the inability to make that progress is frustrating. And that’s what Vice President Biden was giving voice to yesterday,” said Earnest.
At the same time he acknowledged, as Obama himself recently said, that the “two-state solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “is not something that’s likely to happen while President Obama remains in office. “
“The extent of the differences between the two sides are significant enough that it’s not something that’s going to get resolved in the next nine months,” added Earnest.