Biden, Kerry call for settlement freeze


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. John Kerry pledged to confront Iran and protect Israel, but called on the Jewish state to freeze settlements.

In their addresses Tuesday on the closing day of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, both said President Obama was committed to removing Iran’s nuclear threat.

Biden said Israel, the Palestinians and others in the region needed to take demonstrable steps toward peace.

“Show me!” he shouted.

The vice president spelled out steps that needed to be taken by the various parties.

 “Israel,” he said, “must work toward a two-state solution, not build settlements, dismantle outposts and allow Palestinians access to freedom of movement.”

Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, preceded Biden and emphasized the need for Palestinians to stop terrorism. He said that Israel’s Arab neighbors must show a greater willingness to make peace. And he listed the steps that Israel should take.

“Israel, too, must take hard steps toward the path to peace,” Kerry said, calling for greater freedom of movement for Palestinians and a settlement freeze.

“Settlements make it difficult for Israel to protect its own citizens. They undercut President [Mahmoud] Abbas and strengthen Hamas by convincing Palestinians that there is no reward for moderation in the region,” he said, referring to the relatively moderate Palestinian Authority president and the terrorist group that opposes him. “They empower the enemies of peace.”

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