JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden in Jerusalem appeared to criticize the Palestinian Authority and some in the international community for failing to condemn terror attacks in Israel.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms,” Biden said Wednesday morning after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The U.S. condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn them. This cannot become an accepted modus opperendi.”
He also said: “This cannot be viewed by civilized people as an appropriate way to behave. It is just not tolerable in the 21st century. They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens. They can be no justification for this hateful violence and the United States stands firmly behind Israel when it defends itself as we are defending ourselves at this moment as well.”
Biden, who arrived in Israel Tuesday just as a wave of three terror attacks began unfolding in Jerusalem, Petah Tikvah and Jaffa, told reporters during the joint appearance with Netanyahu after the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office that his wife, Jill, and two of his grandchildren who have joined them on the trip, were having dinner on the Tel Aviv beach close to the attacks Tuesday night in Jaffa when they occurred. An American tourist, Vanderbilt graduate student, Taylor Force, 29, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, was killed in the attack, which wounded about a dozen others, including Force’s wife.
“It just brings home that it (terror) can happen, it can happen anywhere, at any time,” Biden said.
Biden said that he had wanted to visit the wounded Americans in the wake of the attack, but that it was not possible to arrange.
Netanyahu lamented that Abbas had not condemned the attacks and pointed out that his Fatah party had praised the attacker as a “martyr and a hero.”
“I believe that to fight terror, all civilized societies must stand together. And while Israel has many partners in this decisive battle, we have no better partner than the United States of America. It’s a partnership anchored in common values, confronting common enemies and striving for a more secure, prosperous and peaceful future,” Netanyahu said. He described as a challenge “the persistent incitement in Palestinian society that glorifies murderers of innocent people, and calls for a Palestinian state not to live in peace with Israel, but to replace Israel.”
Biden also addressed the current defense aid negotiations between Israel and Washington, which were to be discussed during his visit, telling reporters that the United States is “committed to making sure that Israel can defend itself against all serious threats, maintain its qualitative edge with a quantity sufficient to maintain that.”
The United States currently provides about $3 billion a year in military grants to Israel. With the current grants expiring in 2018, the U.S. and Israel are working to negotiate a new 10-year deal, known as the Memorandum of Understanding.