Diplomacy & defense

After meeting with Netanyahu, US vice president says US condemns terror attacks against Israelis

US Vice President Joe Biden condemned terror in Israel on Wednesday, saying that "Israeli's cannot go one being afraid for their lives," as he met with Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to Haaretz, Biden urged Netanyahu to sign a memorandum of understanding with President Barack Obama – often perceived as being at loggorhead with the Israeli leader on most issues – regarding the next US military aid package to Israel.

Citing an unnamed official, the daily reported that a better deal under a new president would be virtually impossible due to expected cuts to the US defense budgets.

Rivlin greeted Biden warmly at the President's residence in Jerusalem where the two made a joint statement before the press.

Rivlin opened the press conference acknowledging the wave of attacks that have taken place, including one in Jerusalem earlier that morning in which two Palestinians fired on a bus in Jerusalem before fleeing and again opening fire outside the Old City, leaving one Israeli seriously wounded

"Once again we woke up to terror on the streets of Jerusalem. You arrived yesterday and were in Jaffa, just a short distance from the brutal terror attack in which a US citizen was murdered," Rivlin said to Biden.

"I stand here with you in grief and in solidarity. Our prayers go to the victim’s family, and to all the injured in the wave of terror which struck last night and this morning," he continued, adding that "to my sorrow, Israel has faced this kind of terror nearly every day over the past year. Israel will continue to stand firm in the face of this violence and hatred. Terror will not break us, and it will not shape our future."

Heidi Levine (Pool/AFP)

Biden responded to Rivlin's statements saying, "We take very seriously, as you do here, the death of every innocent civilian, every warrior, that comes as a consequence of the evil acts of terror."

"There is an old Irish expression, ‘too long a suffering makes a stone of the heart.’ The reason why we have to deal with this plague of terrorism is it will have the tendency to harden hearts – not be willing to reach out, not be willing to reach compromise," Biden continued.

"Israelis and visitors to Israel cannot go on being afraid to go about their lives for fear of being attacked. The violence has to stop, period. As you indicated, Mr President, one of the reasons I think you are such a wise man, it cannot and will not be done just be physical force," he added.

Biden criticizes Palestinian leaders for 'failure to condemn' attacks

As Biden met with Netanyahu he implicitly criticized Palestinian leaders for not condemning attacks against Israelis.

"The United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts," Biden said after meeting the Israeli leader.

"The kind of violence we saw yesterday, the failure to condemn it, the rhetoric that incites that violence, the retribution that it generates, has to stop."

Six separate attacks have taken place shortly before or after Biden's arrival on Tuesday, including a stabbing spree on Tel Aviv's waterfront by a Palestinian who killed an American tourist and wounded 12 people.

Biden said his wife and grandchildren had been having dinner on the beach not far from the site of the stabbings.

"It just brings home that it happens and it can happen anywhere at any time," he said.

Biden met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Muqata'a in Ramallah on Wednesday evening. Biden did not make a statement after the meeting, which lasted around an hour.


The PA, on the other hand, did release a statement to the press, saying: "President Abbas gave his condolences to VP Biden on the killing of the American tourist yesterday. He also said that Israel has killed more than 200 Palestinians [in the current wave of violence].

"Abbas said that the PA is committed to the two-state solution based on the '67 borders," the statement continued.

Abbas also said in the meeting that fighting terror in all its forms should be a priority, the statement said.

According to the PA statement, Biden reaffirmed in the meeting the US's opposition to settlement-building.


Netanyahu thanked Biden for condemning Tuesday's attack which killed an American citizen, but, "unfortunately President Abbas has not only refused to condemn these terrorist attacks, his Fatah party actually praised the murderer of this American citizen as a Palestinian martyr and a hero," he said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas has repeatedly called for peaceful resistance against the Israeli occupation, but has not specifically condemned a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks that erupted in October.

Islamist movement Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, often praises such attacks.

Many of the attackers have been young people, including teenagers, who appear to have been acting on their own.

Analysts say Palestinian frustration with Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, the complete lack of progress in peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have fed the unrest.

Israel blames incitement by Palestinian leaders and media as a main cause of the violence.

According to Netanyahu the two discussed 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" as well as the rise of the Islamic State group and Iran’s "relentless aggression and terror in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, the Golan and Gaza, and elsewhere in the region and around the world."

According to i24NEWS' diplomatic correspondent Tal Shalev, an Israeli official said that Netanyahu and Biden's meeting was warm and friendly, as they have been acquainted for over 30 years.

They discussed Syria and the battle against IS, as well as the Iranian support of Hezbollah. They also discussed normalization efforts with Turkey and regional cooperation efforts, said the official.

On the Palestinian issue - the leaders discussed security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, and Palestinian incitement. Netanyahu showed Biden the incitement video he has been showing world leaders in recent months and pointed out that the official PA Facebook page had praise for the terrorists that perpetrated the attacks yesterday, the official added.

Biden will travel to Palestinian political capital Ramallah in the West Bank later Wednesday to meet Abbas.

Ahead of the Ramallah talks, senior Palestinian official Ahmed Majdalani said he was expecting "nothing" from Biden's visit.

"Mr. Biden is only coming to the region in the context of his plans regarding the fight against terrorism in Syria, not for us," he told AFP, referring to talks between Biden and Netanyahu on the Islamic State jihadist group.

(staff with AFP)


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  • Michael Farmer
    March 10th 2016 - 08:48pm

    "Nonsense. "? No knee jerk comment, Neil. Ponder a while. I'm informing you. You may disagree if it pleases you.

  • Neil Gordon
    March 10th 2016 - 04:21pm


  • Michael Farmer
    March 10th 2016 - 03:03pm

    "Oh, and remind me again, what did the total withdrawal of Jews from Gaza bring Israel? "

    Its intention was to give Israel the ability to more concentrate its resources in taking much of the West Bank, also to drive a wedge between the Palestinian people who are one entity.

    The current debacle was not foreseen.

  • Neil Gordon
    March 10th 2016 - 01:41am

    Oh, and remind me again, what did the total withdrawal of Jews from Gaza bring Israel?

  • Neil Gordon
    March 10th 2016 - 01:39am

    Negotiations come with compromises - not a one-way street. Abbas didn't bother to show up to talks when there were freezes - a condition to get him to the table in the first place. But of course, Palestinian violence isn't about settlements, it's their hatred for Jews...otherwise they would've had a country any time between 1948 and 1967 (before Arabs chose to invent a people call "Palestinians")

  • Michael Farmer
    March 10th 2016 - 12:49am

    Freezes, but not removals.

  • Neil Gordon
    March 09th 2016 - 10:19pm

    Michael please explain why Arabs have been trying to murder Jews even before a settlement was ever built, or when there have been settlement freezes?

  • Michael Farmer
    March 09th 2016 - 08:03pm

    "You make up your own rules as you see fit"?

    If so you should call me Israel Farmer.

  • James Spackman
    March 09th 2016 - 06:26pm

    More crazy comments from the jew hating lying bigot.. You live in fantasy land...Biden was talking about Mahmoud abbas AKA Abu Mazen, and his Fatah cronies who refuse to condemn the murders of innocent jews..I think you live on a different planet than the rest of us.. You make up your own rules as you see fit..I seriously think you need to get some medication for your fantasies.

    Take a walk to the banks of the River Jordan, there you will see jordanian soldiers on the east bank of the Allenby bridge..JORDANS BORDER WITH ISRAEL,, On the west bank of the river Jordan you will see IDF soldiers guarding the west bank of the Allenby bridge.Israel's border with JORDAN..
    A lot of people are now seeing the true face of Abbas and co. and looking into where all the foreign aid money is going to....

    The striking teachers are exposing the Palestinian Authority (PA) as playing Western donors for suckers.

    No one, in fact, knows how many Palestinians are on the Palestinian payroll.

    Donors might not be aware, for instance, that they are paying over 50,000 employees from the Gaza Strip to not work. This has been the case since 20007, when Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip. In response, the PA ordered all its employees to boycott Hamas and promised to pay them full salaries for sitting at home.

    The Palestinian committee has been tasked to avoid scandal and ensure that donors do not get to the bottom of the case.

    Western donors want to see a list of the names of Palestinians who are on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the PA is not happy about it.

    What is driving this demand? Thousands of Palestinian school teachers in the West Bank are striking for better conditions. The Palestinian leadership, in response, has ordered a security crackdown on the strikers.

    To justify the crackdown, PA officials have claimed that the strike was organized by Hamas as part of a conspiracy to embarrass and undermine the regime of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    What is really happening is that the teachers are blowing the whistle on PA corruption. They have accused the PA Ministry of Education of wasting donors' funds and deceiving them by inflating the number of teachers. They claim that the list of employees (about 56,000) ostensibly hired by the ministry contains many fictitious names. These include teachers and administrative workers of the ministry.

    The teachers also accuse the PA of lying to the donors about their salaries. The information provided by the PA to donors claimed that the PA pays higher salaries to the teachers than the teachers actually receive.

    In other words, the striking teachers are exposing the PA as playing Western donors for suckers.

    The PA's Finance Ministry has yet to publish the general budget for the years 2015 and 2016. The last time the budget appeared on the ministry's official website was in 2014. The striking teachers and other Palestinians say there is something fishy about the Finance Ministry's failure to make public the annual budget for 2015 and 2016. They call this a lack of transparency.

    According to various sources, the donors' request took PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah by surprise. He has referred the request to the office of Mahmoud Abbas and is now awaiting the president's personal intervention in the developing scandal.

    One report revealed that the PA leadership has formed a secret legal committee, headed by Palestinian official Karim Shehadeh, to prepare a reply to the donors about the discrepancy in the salaries. The committee has been tasked to avoid scandal and ensure that donors do not get to the bottom of the case.

    The donors' request explains the hysterical response of the PA leadership to the ongoing teachers' strike in the West Bank. In the past few weeks, PA security forces have rounded up dozens of striking teachers and imposed a reign of intimidation against others. When the teachers planned to hold a protest rally in Ramallah last week, the PA deployed hundreds of policemen and set up checkpoints in various parts of the West Bank in a bid to foil the protest and terrify the teachers.

    Left: Striking Palestinian teachers protest in Ramallah last week. Right: Palestinian Authority policemen deploy in the street to intimidate the teachers.
    In a typical game of smoke and mirrors, the Palestinian government this week denied that the donor countries demanded to inspect the payroll records. Yet Palestinian sources in Ramallah insisted that the reports were true. According to the sources, this marks a watershed in donors' demand for accountability from the PA leadership.

    Striking teachers is only one of the PA headaches. The donors' demand for a full report on the names of PA public employees is bad news for Abbas. No one, in fact, knows how many Palestinians are on the PA payroll. Some figures estimate the number of employees at over 160,000, while others have put the figure at 250,000.

    According to one study, the Palestinians have one policeman for every 52 people, compared to one teacher for each 72. Since its founding more than two decades ago, the PA has established ten different security services that employ more than 70,000 people.

    Some Palestinians have charged that these numbers have been vastly inflated by using names of the deceased, those who live abroad and some who do not even exist. In the main, these salaries are covered by donor governments such as the US and EU, who for years have failed to check the lists of the public employees or verify the sums.

    Moreover, donors might not be aware that they are paying over 50,000 employees from the Gaza Strip to not work. This has been the case since 20007, when Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip. In response, the Palestinian Authority ordered all its employees to boycott Hamas and promised to pay them full salaries for sitting at home.

    If the donors are indeed demanding the report, it could mark the dawn of a new era -- one in which the PA leadership is called on the carpet for its financial shenanigans. Of course, President Abbas and his friends might still find a way to blame Israel. This tactic has worked wonders in the past.

    Thus, the jury is still out on whether the donors will show themselves to be the suckers the PA is hoping for, or if the Palestinians will finally begin to be held accountable for their behavior.

    Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem

  • Michael Farmer
    March 09th 2016 - 05:32pm

    ""The United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts," Biden said after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."

    Biden is of course referring to the continued settlement building and Netanyahu's refusal to disown their illegal action.