US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel for talks amid several Palestinian terrorist attacks, one of which occurred just a short distance from a meeting he was in at the time.
Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Tuesday for a two-day visit that is to include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as Palestinian terrorists unleashed a wave of attacks that killed an American tourist near where Biden was visiting and wounded a dozen Israelis.
The American, Taylor Force, a US military veteran, was killed in a stabbing spree in the port city of Jaffa in which a Palestinian terrorist also wounded 13 Israelis before he was shot and killed by Israeli police.
The attack took place as Biden was meeting with former Israeli President Shimon Peres nearby, at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa.
It was the latest bloodshed in more than six months of near-daily Palestinian assaults on Israeli civilians and security forces that show no sign of abating. The Jaffa attack was one of four Palestinian attacks on Tuesday.
“I notified the vice president on the terrible incident that took place just a few hundred meters away from here in Jaffa,” Peres said, standing next to Biden. “Terror leads to nowhere.”
“The majority of the people know there is no alternative to the two state solution … and we shall follow with all our strength and dedication to make from it a new reality,” Peres added.
“It is up to us, Israel and the United States together, to do everything we can in order to fight terror and bring an end to the bloodshed and war,” Peres said in a statement released by his office.
Biden’s office said he expressed his sorrow at the tragic loss of American life and offered his condolences to the family of the American citizen, as well as wishes for a full and quick recovery for the wounded Israelis.
Just ahead of the visit, Israel disputed a White House claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “surprised” the Obama administration by canceling a planned visit to Washington, saying that the White House knew Netanyahu was considering not coming.
Netanyahu had been expected to visit later in March on a trip coinciding with the AIPAC pro-Israel group’s annual summit, but his office said he would not travel because he did not wish to come at the height of US presidential primaries.
An Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said Netanyahu wanted to avoid potential meetings with presidential candidates at the summit. Netanyahu was accused of siding with Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign and he appears wary of sparking any additional claims of meddling in American politics.
“It’s a tumultuous primary season in the United States … we don’t want to inject ourselves into that tumultuous process,” the official said.
Later, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said there was no reason to consider Netanyahu’s cancellation “a snub.” But he said the White House would have preferred to hear that he would not visit in person rather than through media reports.
Netanyahu’s office said Tuesday the prime minister is, “looking forward to the visit of Biden and discussing how we can meet the many challenges facing the region.”
Biden is not expected to offer any new initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Israel or during his meetings in the Palestinian Authority.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
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