U.S. Vice President Joe Biden used former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's passing as an opportunity to put pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to come together and reach a final peace agreement.
Biden arrived in Israel on Jan. 13 to serve as the American representative at Sharon's funeral , where he spoke.
During that speech, Biden stayed away from current affairs and focused primarily on praising Sharon as an Israeli leader. He recalled several meetings the two shared over their respective political careers.
But in a bilateral meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Biden seized the chance to remind both Israelis and Palestinians of the need to dedicate themselves to the difficult path before them.
"Israel’s ultimate security rests in a genuine accommodation with the Palestinians that is born out of secure borders that are peaceful," Biden said during the meeting, according to a speech transcript that was later released on his official web page.
He charged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with continuing the talks that began in the summer of 2013 by telling Peres, "I, like you, believe that the Prime Minister is up to it. It’s not easy. None of this is easy."
However he was quick to make clear his opinion that both sides are responsible for working toward a peaceful solution when he made a similar plea to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"God willing, Abu Mazen will be up to the task because he’s got to make some difficult decisions," Biden said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Israel earlier this month when he told reporters that “the time is soon arriving when leaders will have to make difficult decisions . We are close to that time, if not at it.”