Biden: Israeli actions moving country in wrong direction

Vice President Biden on Monday evening criticized the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arguing that his actions in recent years have hurt the prospect of peace with Palestinians.

Biden noted the "damaging moves" by Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court last year and the need for a more forceful denouncement of specific violence against Israelis, but he also criticized moves under Netanyahu as "counterproductive" to Israel's security.

"Settlement policies are hurting support for Israel and moving us further away from a two-state solution," Biden said during his address at the progressive pro-Israel advocacy group J Street. 

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"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," Biden said. "They're moving us toward a one-state reality, and that reality is dangerous."

Biden suggested there was little likelihood of progress toward a two-state solution anytime soon. He comments follow meetings in the region last month amid speculation about whether the administration may outline the parameters of an agreement before President Obama leaves office. 

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBiden leads CNN poll, but Harris, Sanders on the rise Beto is the poor man's Obama — Dems can do better Joe Biden could be a great president, but can he win? MORE vowed in his own address shortly before Biden took the stage that "for these next nine months, we will not stop working" toward a two-state solution. 

"I'm sorry to say I didn't come away from my recent meetings with either Prime Minister Netanyahu or [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas feeling encouraged by about the prospects of peace in the immediate future," Biden said. 

"There is, at the moment, no political will that I observed among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward with serious negotiations," Biden said, suggesting that trust among leaders is "fractured on both sides."

Biden also called on young American Jews to reject efforts to "delegitimize Israeli" and issued a general call for Jewish allies to speak out more forcefully against the growth of anti-semitism in Europe.

Biden and Kerry defended the Obama administration's work to secure the Iran nuclear deal last year, hailing it as one of the biggest moves toward pursuing security and peace in the region for Israel. 

The pair also offered condolences to those affected by a bus bombing earlier in the day in Jerusalem, with Kerry suggesting the bombing had "all the hallmarks" of a terrorist attack.

Biden previously addressed the progressive group in 2013, while Kerry spoke at the gathering for the first time Monday.