US Vice President Joe Biden expressed America's "absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel' security" at a press conference in Jerusalem following a meeting with Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu Monday morning.
As such, Biden said, Washington was "determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and we are working with many countries around the world to convince Iran to meet its international obligations to cease and desist."
The cornerstone of the US-Israel relationship, Biden said, was America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security. "Bibi you heard me say before, progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the US and Israel. There is no space between the US and Israel when it comes to Israel's security."Related articles:Biden tells Peres: There is a 'moment of opportunity' for peaceDeputy FM Ayalon: 4-8 weeks left for diplomacy on Iran
Biden, who said that he had "productive" talks with Netanyahu about a wide range of issues, also took pains to praise Netanyahu for steps he has taken to make a more conducive atmosphere for talks with the Palestinians.
"A peace agreement will require both parties to make some historically bold commitments," Biden said. "You have done it before, and I am confident for world peace you will do it again."
Biden, who has known Netanyahu for some 30 years, said he has taken some significant steps, including "the moratorium that has limited new settlement construction activity," and measures that have increased Palestinian movement in the Wet Bank.
Palestinian leaders, he said, are also "beginning to make progress" on efforts to reform their institutions of government and make their security forces more reliable.
"It is easy to point fingers, particularly in this part of world as to what each side has not done, but it is also important to give credit where things have been done, in order to be able to move foreword," Biden said.
Biden said the US "will always stand with those who take risks for peace," and added that Netanyahu was willing to do that, and he hoped and expected that the Palestinians would be prepared to do so as well.
Netanyahu, who thanked the US Administration for its support on a wide
range of issues – from preserving Israel's qualitative military edge to
support on the Goldstone Commission report - also called for tough
sanctions against Iran.
The Prime Minister also said he appreciated the Administration's
efforts to advance the peace process, and was "pleased that these
efforts are beginning to bear fruit."
At the end of the joint statements – no questions were taken from the
press – Netanyahu gave Biden a certificate saying that a ring of tress
was planted in memory of his mother, Catherine Eugenia Jean Finnegan
Biden, who passed away in January at the age of 92.
"My love for your country was watered by this Irish lady, who was
proudest of me when I was working with and for the security of Israel,"