JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Jerusalem appeared to criticize the Palestinian Authority and some in the international community for not condemning terror attacks in Israel.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms: The U.S. condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn them,” Biden said Wednesday morning after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “This cannot become an accepted modus opperendi.
“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. There 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 arrived in Israel on Tuesday just as separate terror attacks began unfolding in Jerusalem, Petach Tikvah and Tel Aviv. He told reporters at a joint appearance with Netanyahu after they met at the Prime Minister’s Office that his wife, Jill, and two of his grandchildren who are on the trip were having dinner on the Tel Aviv beach near the attacks Tuesday night at the Jaffa Port when they occurred.
An American tourist, Taylor Force, 29, was killed in the attack. The Vanderbilt graduate student was a U.S. Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. Among about a dozen people wounded was Force’s wife.
“It just brings home that it [terror] can happen, it can happen anywhere, at any time,” Biden said.
Biden said he wanted to visit the Americans injured in the attack but it was not possible to arrange.
Netanyahu lamented that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 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,” Netanyahu said. “It’s a partnership anchored in common values, confronting common enemies and striving for a more secure, prosperous and peaceful future.”
The Israeli leader 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 defense aid negotiations between Israel and Washington, which were to be discussed during his two-day 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.