Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with US Vice President Joseph Biden in his official Jerusalem residence Monday evening following Ariel Sharon’s funeral, with the meeting believed to have focused on both Iran and the Palestinian negotiations.

No remarks were made beforehand, and no statement was issued afterward.

Biden and Netanyahu were scheduled to have a one-on-one meeting, following a meeting with top aides. The US side, in addition to Biden, included US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and the National Security Council’s director for Israeli and Palestinian affairs, Maher Bitar.

This was Biden’s first visit to Israel since March 2010, which was marred by an Israeli announcement at the time on the construction of new housing units in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, over the pre- 1967 lines.

Before meeting with Netanyahu, Biden visited President Shimon Peres and told him Israel’s security depended on “genuine accommodation” with a Palestinian state.

He characterized the Arab Spring as an “incredibly historical phenomenon,” and 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.”

“This is one of those opportunities, one of those moments in history. It has to be seized,” Biden said, adding that US Secretary of State John Kerry is passionate about achieving a successful outcome.

He said he believes Netanyahu “is up to the challenge,” and also expressed hope that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also “will be up to the task.”

Israeli diplomatic officials said it was not clear when Kerry would be returning to the region.

The US secretary of state met with Arab League foreign ministers late Sunday in Paris and said afterward that he told them “we really are at a critical point, as Palestinians and Israeli leaders grapple with difficult and challenging decisions that lie ahead.”

Kerry praised Abbas and Netanyahu for already having made tough choices, “and they are contemplating even tougher choices in the weeks ahead.

The Arab foreign ministers made clear to me that they support Israeli and Palestinian leaders’ efforts to take the next bold, courageous steps of agreeing to a framework for permanent status negotiations.”

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki met in Paris on Sunday night with Kerry and – according to a statement issued from his office – said he reiterated the PA’s opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and insisted that east Jerusalem become the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The Arab ministers support the Palestinian position on all major issues, the statement said.

Malki told the Voice of Palestine radio that Kerry needs to “improve” his latest proposals and take into consideration the Palestinian demands, which have now also become Arab demands.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi, who is also in Paris, said it is premature to talk about a specific draft for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

He said that the negotiations between the two sides could continue for some time.

In the meantime, Palestinian activists are planning to demonstrate in Ramallah on Tuesday in protest against Kerry’s intention to present a framework for continued talks to the Palestinian Authority.

The activists denounced the proposed document as “catastrophic,” saying it is aimed at “liquidating the Palestinian cause.”

The activists expressed fear that the PA leadership would be forced to make “new concessions” as part of Kerry’s proposal.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier – who attended Sharon’s funeral and was in the country as part of a prearranged visit – met with Palestinian officials in Ramallah and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in the capital.

Steinmeier said that this was his first visit outside of Germany since recently being appointed foreign minister, and is a testament to Germany’s commitment toward Israel.

Regarding the diplomatic process, he said that nothing is certain in this region, “but perhaps this year will be a year of better opportunities than in the past.”

Noting that Germany supports Kerry’s efforts, Steinmeier said it is necessary to “lay the foundations for a two-state solution.”

This means, he added, “that the Palestinians will have to decide whether they are willing to walk down the path toward a twostate solution, and it also means telling the Israelis they must not disturb the efforts taking place now through building in the settlements or other actions contrary to these efforts.”

In a related development, Liberman is scheduled to travel to Geneva on Tuesday to represent Israel at the ceremony marking its entrance into CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

He is also scheduled to meet with Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; as well as with Margaret Chan, the director- general of the World Health Organization; and Sven Alkalaj, the executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe.

On Thursday he is to travel to Vienna and meet with Austria’s 27-year-old foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, who assumed office a month ago.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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