Vice President Biden Trip to West Bank Pool Report #1 Wed March 10, 2010
Vice President Biden began the day with a meeting with Quartet representative Tony Blair at his hotel. He said good morning to the press but would not answer any questions. He then visited staff at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. He then took the long, round-about, bypass road to Ramallah, traditionally taken by U.S. officials and met with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at his office.
Fayyad was asked about Israel's housing announcement in east Jerusalem yesterday.
"It's damaging for sure," Fayyad said.
"This is a moment of great challenge to the effort led by the United States to get the political process going again. We definitely appreciate the strong statement of condemnation by the administration vis-a-vis this action which definitely undermines confidence in the prospects of the political process.''
Biden made no comment except to acknowledge that he had climbed four flights of stairs to get to the meeting room.
POOL REPORT 2
VP Biden met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah at Abbas's office at the Mukata. After their meeting, the two delivered prepared remarks in which Abbas said Israeli settlement activities ``particularly'' in Jerusalem threatened the negotiations. Abbas called on Israel to reverse the expansion in Jerusalem and said he wanted to make peace with Israel (see transcript when it comes out for full quotes.)
Biden reiterated his statement from yesterday that Israel's announcement of expansion in east Jerusalem undermines trust between the parties.
From Ramallah his motorcade sped to Bethlehem, making it there in what may have been a record 40 minutes. He toured the Nassar Stone factory and watched slabs of rock get turned into cut, polished marble with names like ``Delicate Ivory.'' PM Salam Fayyad accompanied Biden. The pool was kept away from Biden so I have no idea what kinds of questions he asked. He stopped in a souvenir shop across from the wall Israel has constructed which cuts right through Bethlehem by Rachel's Tomb. He then went to the Bethlehem Intercontinental and met with business leaders for dinner. Biden took no questions today, as was the case yesterday.