US Vice-President Joe Biden said that he feels 'overwhelming frustration' towards Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government over its continued settlements and land seizures. Biden's comments come as the Israeli prime minister reaffirmed his commitment to Israeli sovereignty in the disputed Golan Heights.
In an unusually direct criticism of the Israeli government the American politician said that Netanyahu was taking Israel in the wrong direction through his policies, including settlement building, and land seizures — most prominently in Palestinian territories.
Biden's comments were made in a speech to the Jewish American group J-Street. The US and Israel have already disagreed over the Iran nuclear deal – with Israel believing that the West has ignored the repeated threats from Iran.
On Saturday, Netanyahu hosted the first-ever cabinet meeting from the Golan Heights where he repeated his belief that the rocky outpost would remain in Israel hands forever. Syria also lays claim to the area which has been fought over since the 1960s with the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War over the disputed region.
Netanyahu's rhetoric was met with equally angry comments from Syria who wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and accused the Israel government of co-operating with Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaeda in the region. Many in the international community deem the Israel annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981 as illegal.
"I firmly believe that the actions that Israel's government has taken over the past several years – the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalisation of outposts, land seizures – they're moving us and more importantly they're moving Israel in the wrong direction," Biden said according to the RT.
Despite voicing his concerns on 19 April Biden did insist that the US remained committed to Israel's security. He added: "No matter what political disagreements we have with Israel – and we do have political disagreements now – there is never any question about our commitment to Israel's security."
Many Israel politicians are anticipating the US stance on a Palestinian resolution mooted at the UN Security Council seeking to condemn Israel's continued construction of illegal settlements – with the latest comments seemingly in agreement with the resolution. Biden also added his belief that there should be a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel.