Biden announces opposition to Israel's annexation of West Bank
Speaking at a fundraiser, Biden vowed to not approve the annexation of occupied West Bank settlements if he were president, and that his administration would not give Israel a "green light" or recognise the illegal move.
"I do not support annexation," he said. "Israel needs to stop the threats of annexation and stop settlement activity because it will choke off any hope of peace."
However, Biden explained that he opposes calls by other Democratic politicians, including Bernie Sanders, to reconsider military aid to Israel over annexing the occupied West Bank.
Biden referred to the idea as "irresponsible", saying he will be committed to Israel's security should he be elected as US president.
"My commitment to Israel is completely unshakable," Biden said.
"As President I will continue our security assistance," he continued, adding that it was the Obama administration that set the current level of military aid provided to Israel, when he was vice president.
"I will maintain Israel's qualitative military edge," Biden urged.
Israeli officials are trying to speed up any recognition of annexation before the US elections, due to take place on 3 November.
On Monday, Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer told US officials that the allies "need to move ahead with annexation now because we don't know what could be the outcome of the Presidential elections in November".
"Joe Biden might win," Channel 13 quoted Dermer as saying, adding that "there is a narrow window, and we should act now".
Although Biden has previously clashed with the Israeli premier over the Iran nuclear deal and settlement construction but has also boasted of being a "personal friend" of Netanyahu.
Despite Biden's desire to resolve conflicts behind closed doors, the prospect of his election in November has sparked fears among the Israeli right.
Supporters of the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank seek to move quickly before the election takes place, in case they find an unsupportive president in the White House.
President Donald Trump, who Netanyahu has called the "best friend Israel has ever had in the White House", backed the annexation of most Israeli settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley in a plan released earlier this year.
The so-called "Deal of the Century" was produced without any consultation with Palestinian negotiators and its provisions for annexation have been met with widespread condemnation from the international community.
A pact between Netanyahu and former rival Benny Gantz to form a unity administration allows for the Israeli government to begin annexing the occupied Palestinian territories on 1 July.
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