U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel for a series of meetings with top Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Two major issues on the agenda include Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and putting an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there’s simply no space between the United States and Israel,” stated Biden. “There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security and for that reason and many others addressing Iran’s nuclear program has been one of our Administration’s priorities. We’re determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and we’re working with many countries around the world to convince Tehran to meet its international obligations and cease and desist. Iran must also curb its other destabilizing actions in the region, well beyond their desire to acquire nuclear weapons and that is their continued support for terrorist groups that threaten Israel and I might add our interest as well. President Obama and I strongly believe that the best long-term guarantee for Israel’s security is a comprehensive Middle East peace with the Palestinians, with the Syrians, with Lebanon, and leading eventually to full and normalized relationships with the entire Arab world. It’s overwhelming in the interest of Israel, but it’s also overwhelming interest to the Arab world and it’s in our interest as well. The goal is obviously to resolve the final status issues to achieve a two-state solution with Israel and a Palestine living side by side in peace and security. A historic peace is going to require both parties to make some historically bold commitments. You have done it before and I’m confident for real peace you would do it again”.
During his visit to Israel, Biden commended the Israeli moratorium on new building in the West Bank, and stated that on the Palestinian end there is a real commitment to reach an agreement.
In the coming weeks, Israeli and Palestinian officials will resume proxy talks that will eventually reignite official dialogue between the two administrations: “I appreciate the Administration’s effort to advance peace in the region,” added Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I know that this has been difficult and has required a great deal of patience, but I’m pleased that these efforts are beginning to bear fruit and we have to be persistent and purposeful in making sure that we get to those direct negotiations that will enable us to resolve this conflict.
“I look forward to working with President Obama, and with you and your entire Administration to forge a historic peace agreement in which the permanence and legitimacy of the Jewish State of Israel is recognized by our Palestinian neighbors and in which Israel’s security is guaranteed for generations to come.”