President Peres: I want to commend the work of John Kerry. I believe in his energy and his contribution. The future of the Middle East will affect our future and we would like to see it successful and prosperous.
Copyright: GPO/Mark Neiman
(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, this afternoon (Monday, 13 January 2014), hosted US Vice President Joe Biden for a diplomatic working. Vice President Biden led the American delegation to the funeral of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; he is accompanied by US Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
US Vice President Biden thanked President Peres for his welcome and said, "President Obama wanted me not only to be here to pay our respects to a great war hero, but a man who knew the changes that occurred in Israel. At the very outset the overwhelming necessity was literally to keep from being pushed into the sea by hostile neighbors that were more powerful and had larger armies and more weapons and he changed the circumstance where Israel is no longer in physical jeopardy as a consequence of being overwhelmed. Israel is a significant power in its own right. As that changed it seemed to me as though former Prime Minister Sharon did not change but changed his focus. When I said today that one of the last major statements he made was that he wanted to work on peace… I think it reflects a change in the region, the need, the understanding that Israel’s ultimate security rested on a genuine accommodation with the Palestinians borne out of secure borders."
Addressing the Arab Spring, Vice President Biden said, "The only place where there is a possibility for an island of stability is quite frankly between the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, in two secure states respecting one another’s sovereignty and security. The President believes and I believe this is one of those opportunities one of those moments in history that have to be seized. There are difficult decisions, very difficult decisions and I, like you, believe the Prime Minister is up to it."
President Peres began by welcoming Vice President Biden and said, "I want to thank you for your moving remarks. They contained on the one hand a historic perspective on the relations between the US and Israel but also a reference to the present. I believe your coming is timely, important and moving. You came not only on a sad day but also on days that Israel has to take tough decisions. All of us are aware that we have to take the decision now, that it’s tough and difficult but we have an open window and God knows when it will happen again. I believe that our government, headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu is taking it seriously. I believe the President of the Palestinian Authority is a serious partner and the right one. I believe there is a serious attempt to make the right decision and there is only one – two states for two peoples. They are our neighbors and we have to make peace with them. We cannot change nations but we can change relations."
President Peres continued and said, "I want to commend the work of John Kerry. I believe in his energy and his contribution. There are changes on our side and on the Arab side. The fact is that even the Arab League formerly a negative front against Israel today offers peace, whether we agree with all the proposals or not there is a change that we must consider. The future of the Middle East will affect our future and we would like to see it successful and prosperous. The Europeans also came with an interesting proposal, if you make peace we are ready to give you both a special status in the EU market and it’s generous and encouraging."