Pool report by Janine Zacharia
VP Biden arrived at the President's official residence in Jerusalem at 9:10 a.m. Tuesday and was greeted warmly by President Shimon Peres who reflected audibly on how he remembered when Biden was the youngest senator. Biden entered the residence and signed the guest book. The inscription read: ``The bond between our two nations has been and will remain unshakeable. Only together can we achieve lasting peace in the region. I take comfort in knowing that you will be our partner in achieving this goal. May God continue to bless the great nation of Israel and its people. You are a great man. Joe Biden. 3-9-10''.
Biden and Peres then entered the meeting room joined by advisers including WH Dennis Ross and Dan Shapiro. Peres, at a pool spray, launched into a long discussion about what the U.S. ought to do about Iran and the peace process. TRANSCRIPT TO FOLLOW. But a few highlights:
Peres, reflecting on the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians, said it would be a ``mistake'' for the Palestinians if the talks began with the borders issue.
Peres said the international community needed to do more to support Palestinian institutions. ``The building of a state is not instead of negotiations,'' he said.
On Iran, Peres said the Ahmadinejad's statements against Israel were a ``cover up'' for the ``hegemony'' it seeks in the region.
``By the way, everybody is using Israel as a cover up,'' he said.
Peres reflected how in the last 1,000 years of history, for 900 years the Arabs ``were under the occupation of empires.''
Biden took notes as Peres continued.
``The United States should lead the Iranian policy. There is nobody else in the world,'' Peres said.
A country like Iran... ``that calls for acts of terror'' and ``hangs people in the streets''...``cannot be a full member of the United Nations,'' Peres said.
After wandering on a bit more about past peace negotiations he was involved in, the IMF's readiness to support Palestinian state building, etc. Peres was interrupted by an aide and asked to wrap up.
Biden began by saying Peres was the most articulate statesman ``I have ever known.''
He then recalled being a friend of Israel since he was a young senator, 29 years old. Talked about how he learned from his father ``a righteous Christian.''
Then, Biden said: ``Israel captured my heart.''
He reflected on his first visit as a young senator when he met with PM Golda Meir and sat next to her as she was chain smoking and on the other side of him sat Yitzhak Rabin.
Biden then went on to say something like: I think your observation is one that more of the world should understand. There is an international attempt to isolate Israel right now. Sometimes we're our own worst enemy. (CHECK TRANSCRIPT FOR EXACT QUOTE; pooler and traveling press were a bit confused about what he meant about ``own worst enemy.'')
On the peace process, Biden, said ``we are at a moment of real opportunity.''
On the U.S.-Israel relationship, Biden said there's ``absolutely no space between the United States and Israel in terms of Israel's security.''
Biden thanked Peres for welcoming him and Peres interjected, ``we were waiting for you.''
``It's good to be home,'' Biden said.
After finishing his meeting with Peres, Biden traveled around the corner to the prime minister's residence in the Rehavia neighborhood and was greeted by PM Benjamin Netanyhau. Biden wrote in the guest book: ``You were half right about our personal paths. Israel is lucky to have you and I am fortunate to have you as a friend. Joe Biden 3-9-10.''