NEW ORLEANS -- After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Joe Biden told Jewish groups on Sunday that the U.S. under the Obama administration remains a steadfast and unwavering ally to Israel.
Biden met for about an hour with Netanyahu to discuss the Mideast peace negotiations, a move seen as a possible sign of movement for the troubled diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians. The peace talks broke down in late September over renewed Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.
Netanyahu was in New Orleans to speak Monday to the general assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America, which is meeting for three days.
In a speech that drew enthusiastic applause from the assembly, Biden repeatedly stressed that the Obama administration backs Israel.
He said the Obama White House "represents an unbroken chain in American leaders who have understood this critical strategic relationship" between the two countries.
"We will not yield a single inch," he said.
Biden did not detail what he and Netanyahu talked about. But he did said Netanyahu agreed that there was "no substitute for direct face-to-face negotiations leading eventually to states where two peoples are secure: A Jewish state and a viable, independent state of Palestine."
And he described past differences between the U.S. and Israel as only "tactical in nature, never fundamental."
The vice president said the Mideast's genuine threats come from Iran and he pledged to defend Israel from that country.
And although the Obama administration remains open to diplomacy with Iran, the U.S. had backed sanctions against the country and would work to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons, Biden said.
Biden also spoke out against any effort to "delegitimize Israel." He said any effort seeking to take away Israel's right to existence would be met with "unshakable resistance from the United States."