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Biden questions Israel's commitment to peace, defends Iran nuclear deal

By Amy R. Connolly   |   March 21, 2016 at 7:41 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) -- Vice President Joe Biden vigorously defended the White House's policy on Israel and said all eyes are on Iran to ensure compliance with the nuclear deal.

Biden, speaking Sunday at the pro-Israel lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., said Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium has been moved out of the country, centrifuges have been removed and a strict regime of inspections has been implemented. He assured the audience of 18,000 Iran would never have nuclear weapons, adding the United States isn't taking Tehran's word alone as assurance of compliance.

"We are watching Iran like a hawk," Biden said. "If Iran violates the deal the U.S. will act. The U.S. will act. Our commitment is unambiguous."

Biden did not express optimism toward a peace accord or alliance between Israel and the Palestinians, and called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt settlement expansions.

"To be frank, Israel's steady and systematic process of expanding settlements is eroding the prospect of a two-state solution," Biden said. "This cannot continue to erode. I know that is a message that is not particularly welcome here."

Biden also took a shot at Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Not mentioning Trump by name, Biden said, "As the Jewish people know better than any other people, any action that marginalizes one religious or ethnic group imperils us all."

"It is incumbent on all of us to stand up against those who traffic in pernicious stereotypes, who seek to scare and divide us for political gain, because the future belongs to the bridge builders, not the wall builders," he said.

Trump is scheduled to speak at the conference Monday.

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