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Biden: Obama's commitment to Israel deep

March 4, 2013 at 4:12 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- It's no bluff when President Obama says there's a military option to bar Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Vice President Joe Biden told the pro-Israel lobby.

"Presidents of the United States cannot and do not bluff, and President Barack Obama is not bluffing," Biden told the the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington Monday.

"We are not looking for war," Biden said. "We are looking to and ready to negotiate peacefully, but all options, including military force, are on the table."

It's not only in Israel's interest -- because of the threats Iran has made about its neighbor in the region -- but also the world interest that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.

"So we have a shared strategic commitment. Let me make clear what that commitment is: It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Period," Biden said. "End of discussion. Prevent -- not contain -- prevent."

Biden used his speech before AIPAC to remind his audience that "no president has done as much to physically secure the state of Israel as President Barack Obama," who will visit Israel in about three weeks.

Biden also ticked off evidence of Obama's commitment to Israel's military superiority in the form of military aid, including $400 million to help underwrite construction of the Iron Dome antimissile system.

The president and he "both know that Israel faces new threats, new pressures and uncertainty," Biden said.

While there may have been disagreements on tactics between the United States and Israel, "we have never disagreed on the strategic imperative that Israel must be able to protect its own, must be able to do it on its own, and we must always stand with Israel to be sure that can happen," Biden said.

He also said the United States and Israel have a shared interest in Syria as the 2-year anniversary of the civil war that began a protests against President Bashar Assad.

"Assad has shown his father's disregard for human life and dignity, engaging in brutal murder of his own citizens," Biden said. "Our position on that tragedy could not be clearer: Assad must go. But we are not signing up for one murderous gang replacing another in Damascus."

Because the threat of Syria has a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons that threaten Israel and the world as a whole, Biden said, "we've set a clear red line against the use of the transfer of the those weapons. And we will work together to prevent this conflict and these horrific weapons from threatening Israel's security."

Concerning moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Biden reminded the audience that the United States voted against Palestinians' request for non-member observer status in the General Assembly.

"There is no shortcut to peace. There is no shortcut to face-to-face negotiations," he said. "We are under no illusions about how difficult it will be to achieve. ... [It's] going to require hard steps on both sides. But it's in all of our interests -- Israel's interest, the United States' interest, the interest of the Palestinian people."

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