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Biden Criticizes Palestinians for Attack That Killed American

  • Robert Berger

US Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not seen, give joint statements in the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016.

US Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not seen, give joint statements in the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden criticized the Palestinian Authority for remaining silent after a Palestinian went on a stabbing rampage Tuesday in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, killing an American tourist and wounding 10 other peopled.

"Let me say in no uncertain terms: The United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts," Biden said Wednesday.

The ruling Palestinian Fatah party praised the attack, describing the assailant who was killed by police as a “heroic martyr.”

Earlier Wednesday, Biden condemned a wave of almost daily Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car rammings that have targeted Israelis during the past six months.

FILE - 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.

FILE - 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.

"There can be no justification of this hateful violence," said Biden, who is visiting Israel. “This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave. It is just not tolerable in the 21st century.”

Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden called Tuesday's deadly stabbing of an American a "heinous terrorist act." He said civilized leaders cannot see the violence as appropriate behavior.

Netanyahu said "nothing justifies these attacks" and criticized Palestinian leaders for not condemning them.

The Palestinian Authority said the attacks are a grassroots response to nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Violence 'has to stop'

Biden called for progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace, saying the work toward a two-state solution is not easy, but that the current violence and retribution "has to stop."

He also reiterated U.S. commitment to Israel's security and vowed to act if Iran violates the nuclear agreement it made with the United States and five other world powers.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, and his family members stand at the entrance to the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, March 9, 2016.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, and his family members stand at the entrance to the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, March 9, 2016.

The vice president also met Wednesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He travels Thursday to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

On Wednesday, Israeli police shot dead two Palestinian gunmen who carried out shootings in Israel that seriously wounded one person.

In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man who tried to stab soldiers at a checkpoint.

'Senseless' attack

On Tuesday, a Palestinian killed American tourist Taylor Allen Force and wounded 12 Israelis. The State Department called that attack "senseless."

At the time of the stabbings, Biden was meeting a few kilometers away 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.

Wave of violence

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

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, a lack of economic opportunities, weak leadership, and a dim outlook for peace.

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