Biden at AIPAC

Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to the annual AIPAC policy conference this morning, reiterated the basic public positions of the Obama administration as it relates to Israel.

After making the standard declarations that the administration shared a commitment to the safety and security of Israel, which he said would not change, he said that the U.S. would be in a better position to promote peace in the region once it reestablishes its leadership role in the world by “responsibly” ending the war in Iraq and stabalizing Afghanistan.

On Iran, Biden said that they supported “direct, principled diplomacy” based on “mutual respect” and said if it fails, “all options remain on the table.” Biden claimed that it would be easier to obtain international support for any action to stop Iran’s nuclear program should they first make an effort for diplomacy.

Biden called on Israel to end settlement activity and for Palestinians to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

He said he’s been friends with Benyamin Netanyahu for a long time and “looks forward to working with him when he comes to visit.”

He also said the administration would continue to “explore oppourtunities for peace with Israel.”

Ultimately, Biden said, “We will be judged not by our commitment to Israel, but by the results of that commitment.” That was probably the most honest part of the speech.

It Pays To Be a Murtha

From the Washington Post:

The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building.

Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech’s most striking feature is its owner — Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department’s spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

At AIPAC, Bibi Says Israel Ready for Unconditional Talks With Palestinians

In a shift, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said tonight that his government was ready to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians without delay or preconditions.

Speaking to the AIPAC annual gala dinner via sattelite, Netanyahu called for a “fresh approach” — a three track peace process comprised of political, security, and economic elements.

While we’ll know more once the details get fleshed out, at first blush, the approach seems different than the one Netanyahu called for during the campaign, when he expressed much more skepticism about talks with a divided Palestinian leadership.

This could be a good will move by Netanyahu to get the Obama administration to become more serious about resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis.

“Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.

He said of the Iranian nuclear threat that this was a rare time in which Arabs and Jews see “a common danger,” noting that the Arabs supported Germany during World War II and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Jan Schakowsky Says “Public Option” Is Way to Single-Payer Health Care

Here’s a video of Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky making explicit something I’ve been writing about for a long time — that introducing a government-run health care “option,” as favored by Obama and Democrats, will destroy private insurance. And this is not an uninteded consequence, but part of the very strategy Democrats will employ to achieve a socialized, or single-payer, health care system in America. You don’t have to take my word for it anymore. Just watch the video.

Did Romney Just Out Himself as a Democrat?

Mitt Romney on health care in Newsweek, writes:

Our divide is fundamental: Republicans believe health care can be best guided by consumers, physicians and markets; Democrats believe government would do better.

Judging by the plan he signed in Massachusetts, under which the government forces individuals to buy health coverage and provides them with subsidies to purchase government-designed insurance on a government-run exchange, Romney’s record suggests more faith in government to solve the health care crisis than consumers, physicians and markets. Does that make him a Democrat?

At AIPAC, Peres Says Israel is Ready for Peace

Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking this morning at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference, clearly sought to play down reports of a strain in U.S.-Israeli relations with the new Obama and Netanyahu administrations. “There is no difference between our position and the American position,” he said, “We want peace.”

Peres had high praise for President Obama. “You are young enough to offer hope to the world,” he said. “You are strong enough to see it come to light.” He wished Obama success and “Godspeed” and said, “We trust the leadership of President Obama.”

Peres said he would be meeting with Obama tomorrow, and that Netanyahu would be later this month. While Peres reminded the audience that he was once a political opponent of Netanyahu, he said that he knows the new prime minister is a man of peace. Netanyahu “wants to be making history, and in our tradition making history is making peace.” He empashized, “peace is his priority.” Peace can happen right way, through regional and bilateral agreements, Peres said.

The problem with Peres’s speech was that all of the rosy talk obscured the very real differences that exist between Obama and Netanyahu. Netanyahu campaigned on the view that peace talks are futile at the current moment given a split in Palestinian leadership with Hamas in contol of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank; the Obama administration sees the peace process as a good in and of itself, regardless of whether there are any realistic prospects that it can actually achieve peace. Netanyahu sees the Iranian nuclear threat as the more pressing issue than a peace agreement with the Palestinians; the Obama administration has the opposite point of view. The Obama administration has left the door open to recognizing a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas; Netanyahu would never recognize a government in which a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction played a leading role.

No amount of lofty rhetoric — either from Peres or Obama — is going to paper over these substantial differences, which will inevitably cause tension between the two allies.