Washington (CNN)Speaking on the anniversary of Israel's independence, Vice President Joe Biden sought to bolster U.S. ties to the Jewish state amid tensions over a preliminary nuclear deal with Iran.
Joe Biden shores up U.S.-Israel ties, says Iran deal isn't a 'grand bargain'
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Biden acknowledged the rift during his remarks at an event hosted by the Israeli Embassy in Washington. But he said the United States and Israel, like quarrelsome siblings, can still disagree while maintaining close bonds.
"We're like family," Biden said. "We have a lot to say to one another. Sometimes you drive each other crazy but we love each other and we protect each other."
The frosty ties between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu devolved into outright animosity last month when Netanyahu planned a trip to Washington -- without consulting the White House -- to lobby lawmakers against the proposed nuclear deal.
The trip came weeks ahead of Israeli elections, a justification the White House used for not scheduling a meeting between Obama and Netanyahu. But following the Israeli prime minister's speech to Congress, an agitated Obama declared the leader wrong on multiple fronts, including Netanyahu's deep opposition to the nuclear plan then still being brokered with Iran.
Even after Netayanhu returned home, the bickering continued. The White House condemned Netanyahu's pre-election rhetoric warning against a wave of Arab voters turning out to polls, and said his statements against a two-state solution in the Middle East were troubling.
Biden expressed support for a two-state solution on Thursday, but didn't address Netanyahu or his remarks directly.
In an bid to smooth over the enmity with Israel, Obama met last week with Jewish American groups at the White House, addressing questions about the plan and attempting to allay concerns about Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Biden's appearance at Thursday's anniversary event was similarly meant to ease tensions. Obama's chief of staff Denis McDonough -- who himself delivered an address to a Jewish group last month -- was also in attendance on Thursday.
"In this moment of some disagreement occasionally between our governments I want to set the record straight on one thing," Biden said. "No president has ever done more to support Israeli security than President Barack Obama."
The vice president said there remains a "great deal of work" before a final agreement on Iran's nuclear program can be signed. He defended the framework agreed to earlier this month, saying it wasn't "a grand bargain between the United States and Iran."
"If Iran cheats at any time and goes for a nuclear weapon, every option we have to respond today remains on the table," he said.