- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2016

Vice President Joseph R. Biden took unusually direct aim Monday night at the Israeli government, telling a liberal U.S. Jewish group that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was hurting the chances for peace.

Mr. Biden criticized the Israeli government for a series of “counterproductive” moves on security issues, most specifically Jewish settlements, in a speech to the progressive J Street group.

“I firmly believe that the action Israel’s government has taken over the past several years – the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures – they’re moving us, and more important, they’re moving Israel, in the wrong direction,” the vice president said.

Mr. Biden said those moves were efforts to make a two-state solution impossible logistically. This possibility he called “dangerous,” saying it would not only make peace with the Palestinians impossible, it would push Israel into a dilemma of remaining a Jewish state or remaining a liberal, democratic one.

“They’re moving us toward a one-state reality, and that reality is dangerous,” Mr. Biden said.

He said his recent visits with Mr. Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas did not leave him “feeling encouraged by about the prospects of peace in the immediate future.”

President Obama’s team has easily been the U.S. administration most critical of Israel in decades, but some optimists chalked that up to personal friction between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu.

But Mr. Biden’s words indicate the distrust may go deeper than that and possibly may be taking root in the Democratic Party.

Former President Jimmy Carter starkly stated that Israel faced a future choice between a two-state solution and becoming an apartheid-like state. Secretary of State John Kerry used that exact comparison with South Africa’s racist regime, though he later backed off and apologized.

Meanwhile, Republican politicians compete among themselves in primaries to see who is most supportive of Israel, and Mr. Netanyahu personally. These developments together suggest that support for Israel might be edging toward becoming a partisan football in U.S. politics, something every Israeli leader has insisted is not, and cannot become, the case.

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