White House defends Biden after criticism of Israeli government

White House defends Biden after criticism of Israeli government
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The White House on Tuesday defended Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' Trump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' 2020 Democrats look to cut into Biden's lead with black voters MORE, a day after he criticized the Israeli government in a major speech to a left-leaning Jewish group. 
 
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Biden did not make Israel out to be a villain. Instead, he was offering tough love from a strong ally. 
 
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“Well, I would vigorously disagree with that description of what Vice President Biden said,” Earnest responded to a reporter who said Biden vilified Israel in his speech. 
 
In a speech to J Street’s annual gala Monday night, Biden said the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often frustrated the White House because of its unwillingness to work with the Palestinians toward a two-state solution. 
 
"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."
 
Earnest noted Biden recently traveled to Israel to meet with Netanyahu and is “somebody who understands the importance of the relationship between our two countries.”
 
“I think what is also true is that when you have a strong relationship with your allies, you can also comfortably disagree in public,” Earnest said. 
 
“And there are areas of disagreement as a matter of policy between our two countries. And we certainly have gone to great length to try to resolve those differences.”
 
While noting Netanyahu has often lauded President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security, the spokesman pointed out he has not been shy about voicing his criticism of the president. 
 
He cited Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress last March, in which the Israeli leader blasted the nuclear agreement with Iran.