Biden Calls for End to Violence, but Says Israel Can't Stop It 'Just by Physical Force'

In talks earlier with Netanyahu, the U.S. vice president also slammed Abbas for failing to condemn Tuesday's surge in attacks, in which in American citizen was killed.

Netanyahu greeting Biden in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016.
Amos Ben Gershom / GOP

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said at a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday that Israel could not resolve the latest wave of violence "just by physical force."

Earlier, Biden, in Israel on a two-day visit, also criticized the Palestinians, demanding they condemn the violence in which an American citizen was killed on Tuesday.

At the meeting with Rivlin, Biden said the violence must stop, but added: "It cannot and will not be done just by physical force."

Earlier in talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Biden condemned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for failing to condemn the attacks.

"Let me say in no uncertain terms the U.S. condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn them. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi," Biden said at a joint press conference with Netanyahu.

Netanyahu accused Fatah, which is headed by Abbas, of publishing a statement in praise of the attack in Jaffa, in which the American tourist was killed and more than a dozen other people were wounded.

US Vice President Joe Biden gestures upon his arrival at Israel's Ben Gurion International airport on March 8, 2016.
AFP

"This cannot be viewed by civilized people as an appropriate way to behave. This is not tolerable in the 21st century. The U.S. stands firmly by Israel's right to defend itself,"Biden also said.

Biden was scheduled to meet with Abbas separately later on Wednesday.

Palestinians perpetrated a series of stabbings and shootings in three cities across Israel on Tuesday – Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Petach Tikvah.  

"I appreciate your strong condemnation of terrorism," Netanyahu said after the hour-long meeting. "Nothing justifies these attacks."

"Unfortunately it's not just that President Abbas refused to condemn these terror attacks, his Fatah party actually praised the murderer of an American citizen as a Palestinian martyr and a hero," Netanyahu said. "This is wrong. And the failure to condemn terror should be condemned by everybody in the international community."

Biden said he and his wife were dining with their grandchildren at a nearby restaurant on the Jaffa waterfront when the attacks took place. He said that he had wanted to go and see the Americans that were wounded in the attack and their families, but was told this would not be possible.

Netanyahu said further that despite the violence, there were great possibilities in the region for strengthening ties between Israel and moderate Arab countries.

Biden, who noted that he arrived in Israel after visiting the United Arab Emirates and that he would visit Jordan on Thursday, said he felt that states in the region are more open to a peace deal with Israel than they were a few years ago, due to the mutual enemies they confront.

"If you talked with people in the region four years ago about any Arab state having peace with Israel they would say there is no shot," Biden said. "There is an awful lot of talking about that now. I think there are possibilities here."

"These folks (Arab countries) had an epiphany," he added. "They realized they would rather be in your orbit than the orbit of ISIS. If we are lucky and smart over the next year we can make real progress but it always requires taking a chance."