JERUSALEM — Vice President Dick Cheney arrived Saturday night in Israel, where he pledged America’s “enduring and unshakable” commitment to the security of the Jewish state as it approaches its 60th anniversary.
Cheney met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to kick off a weekend of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“Our two countries have been more than just strong allies. We’ve been friends, special friends,” Cheney said at a news conference with Olmert.
“Both our nations share the ideals of liberty, equality, human dignity and representative government.”
“Both our nations have stood firm against forces of terror and intimidation. … We are natural allies,” Cheney added.
“It’s not America’s role to dictate the outcome, but we will help with the negotiations and provide all the support and encouragement we can,” Cheney said.
Cheney warned the Palestinians Sunday that attacks on Israel were killing hopes for their “long overdue” state, as the sun set on his Easter weekend peace push.
“Security and peace will not be realised with the continuation of the settlement activities, the establishment of roadblocks around cities and villages, the military escalations in the Gaza Strip, and the continuing military operations in the cities and towns of the West Bank,” he said.
Cheney repeated his message to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert upon arrival Saturday that a peace accord “will require tremendous effort at the negotiating table, and painful concessions on both sides.”
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are one of the main snags that have hampered the peace talks since they were relaunched under US stewardship at an international conference four months ago.
A delegation of Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, also arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday.