Vice President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE on Thursday promised the U.S. would bolster Israel’s military defenses by delivering the latest generation of stealth fighter jets in 2016.
“Next year we will deliver to Israel the F-35 joint strike fighter, our finest, making Israel the only country in the Middle East with a fifth-generation aircraft,” Biden said at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.
Biden spoke at an event observing Israel’s 67th Independence Day, The Jerusalem Post reported.
He promised America would always “have Israel’s back” in his remarks.
“We will never stop working to ensure that Jews from around the world always have somewhere to go, we will never stop working to make sure Israel has a qualitative edge,” Biden said of the upcoming F-35 delivery.
“But I promise you if you were attacked and overwhelmed, we would fight for you, in my view,” he added.
Israel signed a contract last February for 14 F-35s worth nearly $3 billion. It previously purchased 19 of the Lockheed Martin planes for $2.75 billion in 2010.
Biden's pledge comes amid simmering animosity between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders have clashed over Obama’s push for a deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.
Biden on Thursday dismissed these tensions and said the U.S. would not waver in its support of Israel and its people.
“We love each other and we protect each other,” Biden said, comparing U.S.-Israel relations to family ties.
“The truth of the matter is, we need you, the world needs you,” he told listeners.
“Imagine what it would say about humanity and the future of the 21st century were Israel not sustained and vibrant and free."
Netanyahu maintains Iran’s government is untrustworthy and that its quest for nuclear weapons threatens Israel’s existence.
President Obama, though, insists only diplomacy will prevent a nuclear Iran.
The Obama administration announced a tentative pact with Iran over its nuclear energy program on April 2. It would lift economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for greater restrictions on its nuclear production capabilities.
Tehran has promised it will allow more frequent atomic inspections and caps on its centrifuge and uranium stockpiles as part of the bargain.