United States Vice President Joe Biden stated on Thursday that the status quo in the Middle East is not sustainable. "The demographic realities make it difficult for Israel to be a Jewish homeland and a democratic country," said Biden in a speech at Tel Aviv University. "The status quo is not sustainable." "To end this historic conflict, both sides must be historically bold," he said.
Biden stressed that peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians must continue, despite Israel's recent announcement that it plans to expand building in East Jerusalem. "The most important thing is for these talks to go forward and go forward promptly and go forward in good faith," Biden said. "We can't delay because when progress is postponed, extremists exploit our differences."
Biden said Palestinians had misunderstood Israel's announcement of the settlement plan, thinking that building would start immediately. With no construction scheduled for now, he said, negotiators would have time to "resolve this and other outstanding issues."
The vice president also reassured the Israeli public that the United States is committed to take a strong stance on the Iranian nuclear issue. Biden said that "the U.S. is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Period." "Iranians are suffering under a leadership that supports terrorism," said Biden. He further said that "Iran has refused to cooperate" and that the "U.S. is determined to keep up pressure on Iran to change its course."