Vice President Joe Biden said that he and Benjamin Netanyahu are "still buddies."
His comments come after an Obama administration official had harsh words about the Israeli leader.
Vice President Joe Biden stressed Monday that he and Benjamin Netanyahu are “still buddies” during remarks to the Jewish Federations of North America, less than two weeks after a senior Obama administration official was quoted calling the Israeli prime minister “chickens—”
“You better damn well report to Bibi that we’re still buddies,” Biden said at the top of his remarks, speaking specifically to Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, who was in the audience. (“Bibi” is a nickname for Netanyahu.)
“I signed a picture for Bibi a long time ago—I have a bad habit of, no one ever doubts I mean what I say, sometimes I say all that I mean, though—and I signed a picture a long time for Bibi,” Biden continued. “He’s been a friend for over 30 years. I said ‘Bibi I don’t agree with a damn thing you say but I love you.’”
Biden continued to emphasize that “we really are good friends” and later called him a “great, great friend,” though he did not specifically mention the “chickens—” comments.
His comment marked the first time that Biden addressed the group since the quote by the unnamed official — reported by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg — underscored the awkward relationship between President Barack Obama’s administration and Israel.
The Vice President said Israel has no other friend like the United States, and that Obama has met with Netanyahu more than any other world leader.
“Like all close friends, we talk honestly with one another. We talk directly with one another. We disagree with one another. We love one another, and we drive one another crazy,” he said. “That’s what friends do. There is never a miss between the cup and the lip here. We are straight with one another.”
Biden went on in his remarks to spell out the “moral obligation” that the United States has to help Israel.
“My father pointed out to me I did not need to be a Jew to be a Zionist, for I am. Israel is essential for security of Jews worldwide,” he said. “And a state of Palestine. Each enjoin security, self-determination, and mutual recognition.”
He also tried to take a clear line on Iran’s nuclear capacity.
“We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. Period. Period. Period,” he said. “And I would not put my 42 year reputation on the line were I not certain when I say, we mean it.”