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Palestinian Stabs 12, Kills American While Biden in Israel

  • Ken Schwartz

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, March 8, 2016.

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, March 8, 2016.

It was a bloody day in Tel Aviv Tuesday when a Palestinian stabbed an American tourist to death and wounded 12 Israelis while U.S. Vice President Joe Biden held talks just a few kilometers away.

Witnesses say the Palestinian ran down the boardwalk in the port of Jaffa, a popular tourist site, and started stabbing people before police shot him dead.

The State Department identified the dead American as Taylor Allen Force and called the attack that killed him "senseless." The attacker was said to be from the occupied West Bank.

Just a short distance away, Biden was meeting with former Israeli president Shimon Peres, who condemned Tuesday's violence and said successful peace talks are the only answer.

"Terror leads to nowhere, neither to Arabs nor to us," Peres said. "The majority of the people know there is no alternative to the two-state solution...and we shall follow with our strength and dedication to make from it a new reality."

U.S. President Barack Obama has said there will be no comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement before he leaves office next January. The White House also has said Biden is not bringing any new peace initiatives during his talks in Israel.

A wounded man is evacuated from the scene of a stabbing attack in Jaffa, a mixed Jewish-Arab part of Tel Aviv, Israel, March 8, 2016.

A wounded man is evacuated from the scene of a stabbing attack in Jaffa, a mixed Jewish-Arab part of Tel Aviv, Israel, March 8, 2016.

Following their meeting, Biden and Peres met briefly with several Israeli and Palestinian girls who participate in a football (soccer) program that promotes friendship and understanding between Israeli and Palestinian youth through sports.

Biden will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday. They plan to discuss a new 10-year U.S. defense assistance package for Israel and the ongoing fight against Islamic State.

Netanyahu was to have met with Obama at the White House later this month. But Netanyahu's office canceled the talks, saying the prime minister did not want to interfere with the U.S. presidential campaign, even though Obama is not a candidate.

Relations between the two leaders have been lukewarm at best over U.S. criticism of Israeli settlements and Israel's condemnation of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Biden arrived in the Middle East Monday, meeting with U.S. airmen stationed at the Al-Dhafra Air Base. He pledged the United States would "squeeze the heart" out of Islamic State and destroy it.

He also plans to hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday in the West Bank and Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman on Thursday.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden talks to U.S. military personnel at Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 7, 2016.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden talks to U.S. military personnel at Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 7, 2016.

Israel has blamed Abbas and other Palestinian leaders for inciting the six-month wave of violence that has killed 28 Israelis, two Americans and an Eritrean along with at least 177 Palestinians.

Police and bystanders killed most of the Palestinians while they tried to stab Israelis or run them over with cars.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, middle, leads Joe Biden, the U.S. Vice President away from the official stage for media coverage at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, March 7, 2016.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, middle, leads Joe Biden, the U.S. Vice President away from the official stage for media coverage at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, March 7, 2016.

Rumors that Israel was planning to take over an East Jerusalem holy site revered by both Jews and Muslims sparked the violence.

But Palestinians say they are fed up with Israeli settlements in lands they want for a future state, few economic opportunities, weak leadership, and a dim outlook for peace.

Some material for this report came from AFP and Reuters.

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