On July 11, Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden gave a speech outlining his foreign policy objectives in which he stated that the United States must stand with Israel despite the disagreements some Democrats have with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Biden’s 40-minute speech was delivered at City University of New York and he spent most it vowing to renew the diplomacy of the Obama era, contrasting the previous approach with Trump’s “America First” technique. He vowed to rejoin the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear deal. Additionally, he called for an end to the United States’ involvement in “forever wars” although he never mentioned that he voted in favor of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when he was a Senator.
Biden barely mentioned Israel, but his comment on the country was notable:
We need to look for opportunities to strengthen opportunities with domestic friends beyond North America and Europe. Reaching to our partners in Asia including Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, to fortify our collective capabilities. Sustaining our ironclad commitments to Israel’s security regardless of how much you may disagree with its current leader.
A number of Democratic candidates have criticized Netanyahu’s government on the campaign trail, including Bernie Sanders (who implied he’d cut military aid to Israel if they didn’t “respect” the Palestinians) and Pete Buttigieg (who said he wouldn’t supply the Prime Minister with funding if it would be used to annex the West Bank.) Last month, the New York Times asked the Democratic candidates a number of question and one of them was whether Israel meets the international standards of human rights. Biden was the only major candidate who declined to participate.
Biden has a long history of sharing his views on Israel and the American Jewish community. In a 2014 speech before the Jewish Federations of North America, Biden joked about still being friends with Netanyahu despite his seemingly awkward relationship with the Obama administration. “I signed a picture for Bibi a long time ago—I have a bad habit of, no one ever doubts I mean what I say, sometimes I say all that I mean, though—and I signed a picture a long time for Bibi,” said Biden, “He’s been a friend for over 30 years. I said ‘Bibi I don’t agree with a damn thing you say but I love you.'”