Vice President Joe Biden is in Israel this week for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders. The focus of the meetings will be on Iran.
The visit by Biden comes at a critical juncture with the continuing confrontation with Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden said there is "no space" between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to Iran.
"We're determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and we're working with many other countries around the world to convince Tehran to meet its international obligations and to cease and desist," Biden said.
Preventing Nuclear Iran
Netanyahu said he appreciated the U.S. administration's effort to lead the international community to place tough sanctions on Iran.
"The stronger those sanctions are the more likely the Iranian regime will have to choose between advancing its nuclear program and advancing the future of its own permanence," Netanyahu said.
A major expectation from Biden's visit is that he will caution Israel not to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran before new, more aggressive sanctions are in place and allowed to work. The U.S. wants to see if sanctions will work even though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it might take months to get those sanctions in place.
Sanctions 'Won't Work'
Many analysts and government officials here are doubtful sanctions will stop Iran
"Truthfully I don't see the sanctions actually even appearing in the form we can call them real sanctions," said Shmuel Bar, director of Herzliya Institute of Policy and Strategy. "In other words sanctions which will not have any real effect even if they are implemented."
Bar feels the burden of confronting Iran might eventually lie with Israel alone.
"Any consequences of an Iranian reaction to an Israeli strike would probably be much less than the consequences of Iranian nuclear bomb over Tel Aviv," he added.
The question remains if Israel's leaders will refrain from unilateral military action. They, more than most, are aware that the clock keeps ticking while Iran draws closer to getting a nuclear bomb.
New Constructions Approved
While in Jerusalem, Biden also encouraged peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
But that is being overshadowed by Israel approving construction on contested land of 1,600 new homes to be built in east Jerusalem.
The Obama administration wants all settlement construction stopped and has condemned the move.