U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Monday urged Israel to seize this moment in history to make peace with the Palestinian Authority (PA), AFP reported.
Biden’s comments were made in a meeting with President Shimon Peres, hours after both paid their last respects to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who was buried on Monday.
The meeting focused on the U.S.-led direct peace talks between the sides, which resumed in July.
"The one place (in the region) where there's a possibility for an island of stability ... is between the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, in two secure states respecting one another's sovereignty and security," Biden told Peres in remarks relayed by the White House.
"And the president believes and I believe that this is one of those opportunities, one of those moments in history where it has to be seized," he added.
Biden admitted there were some "very difficult decisions" ahead, but expressed confidence that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was "up to" the task and expressed hope that the same was true of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"Israel's ultimate security rests in a genuine accommodation with the Palestinians that it is born out of secure borders that are peaceful," he said during the meeting with Peres.
Peres hailed the timing of Biden’s visit, telling him, according to AFP, "Your coming is timely, important and moving. You came not only on a sad day but during 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 G-d knows when it will happen again," said Peres.
After the meeting with Peres, Biden continued for a dinner meeting at Netanyahu's Jerusalem residence.
So far, little progress has been made in the talks, which restarted following a diplomatic push by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry is now trying to convince the sides to sign a framework agreement which would, among other things, divide part of Jerusalem to the PA, while Jordan would have jurisdiction on holy sites in the Jewish capital.
Netanyahu told senior officials in his government last week that he won't agree to any division of Jerusalem in framework agreements.