It was hardly a shock this week to find top Democrats, such as Rep. Anthony Weiner, defending israel’s assault on ships carrying aid to Gaza (as the White House issued mild concern and asked for time to study the incident) but Vice President Joe Biden took it to a higher level in an interview airing on Charlie Rose on PBS tonight. His words stand in stark contrast to world opinion, as even the new Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron today called the attack "totally unaccceptable" and called for a lifting of the Gaza blockade. Here’s a key excerpt from the show tonight:
Joe Biden: I think Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest. I put all this back on two things: one, Hamas, and, two, Israel’s need to be more generous relative to the Palestinian people who are in trouble in Gaza.
Let me explain that very briefly. Sometimes, because we deal so much at least which you know so much about, we have to remember how we got here. Remember, it was Ehud Barak who decided to pull all Iraqi troops — I mean, excuse me, all Iraqi — all Israeli troops out of Gaza. He did that back in ’06. Then there was an election, an election for their parliament with a president named Mahmoud Abbas who in fact was the successor of Arafat in the Fatah. That produced a majority of members of the parliament, which was the West Bank and Gaza, of Hamas.
The international community, the so-called Quartet; the United States, Europe, Russia, and the U.N., said, "Look, in order for you to be part of that government, you have to agree to four conditions. One, you’ll abide by previous agreements that have been made by the government of — by the Palestinians. Two, you are going to renounce terror. Three, you’re going to recognize Israel, and basically that you have to accept” — and here’s what happened.
They then got in a fight among themselves. They physically took over by force of arms, killed members of the existing government, exile them, took over and started firing rockets into Israel. Over 3,000 went in last year. And as we put pressure, and the world put pressure on Israel to let material go into Gaza to help those people who are suffering, the ordinary Palestinians there, what happened? Hamas would confiscate it, put it in a warehouse, sell it, they were—so the problem is this would end tomorrow if Hamas agreed to form a government with the Palestinian Authority on the conditions the international community has set up.
And so I mean again, look, you can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not and the—but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know—they’re at war with Hamas—has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in. And up to now, Charlie, what’s happened? They’ve said, "Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship—if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza."
So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, "I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping eight— 3,000 rockets on my people." Now, the one thing we have to do is not forget the plight of these Palestinians there, not Hamas, the—they’re in bad shape. So we have put as much pressure and as much cajoling on Israel as we can to allow them to get building materials in, glass—
Charlie Rose: That’s what they’re trying to bring in, building materials.
Joe Biden: Yes, we know that, but they could have easily brought it in here and we’d get it through. And so now the question is what do we do? Well, we had made it clear, the President of the United States has spoken three times, yesterday with Bibi, or the day before yesterday, he’s spoken once yesterday with a guy that I have spent a fair amount of time with, with Prime Minister Erdogan in Turkey; the Turks, we passed a resolution in the U.N. saying we need a transparent and open investigation of what happened. It looks like things are—
Charlie Rose: International investigation—
Joe Biden: Well, an investigation run by the Israelis, but we’re open to international participation, just like the investigation run on the sunken sub in—off the coast of Korea. That was run by South Korea, but the international community joined in that investigation. And so that is very possible here as well. I might add by the way for all those who say the Israelis, you know, you know, you can’t trust them, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled today that every one of the people on those ships had to be released immediately, immediately.