Joe Biden arrives in Israel as US tourist is killed in attack

Three Palestinian assailants killed in three separate incidents across Israel

US vice-president Joe Biden shakes hands with former Israeli president Shimon Peres during a meeting on Tuesday at the Peres Centre for Peace in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

US vice-president Joe Biden shakes hands with former Israeli president Shimon Peres during a meeting on Tuesday at the Peres Centre for Peace in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

 

US vice-president Joe Biden arrived in Israel last night as an American tourist was killed and 14 people wounded in three separate stabbing and shooting attacks. Three Palestinian assailants were killed.

The wave of violence that began last October appeared to be on the decline in recent weeks but the attacks in Jaffa, a mixed Jewish-Arab area in south Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva, provided a painful reminder that the Israeli authorities have still not been able to restore calm.

Police said the three attacks were not linked to each other.

It was unclear if they were timed to coincide with Mr Biden’s visit.

In Jaffa, an American tourist (29) was killed and 11 people wounded, when a man stabbed passersby before he was shot and killed by a police officer.

The incident occurred close to where the vice-president was visiting the Shimon Peres peace centre.

Motorcycle shooting

In the third incident, in Petah Tikva, a man who was stabbed and moderately hurt managed to overcome the assailant and stabbed him to death with his own knife.

Mr Biden, who will meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders today, pledged “total, unvarnished commitment” to Israel’s security.

His visit comes amidst reports that Washington was seeking ways to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process before President Barack Obama leaves office next January.

According to senior US officials, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Washington is mulling a United Nations Security Council resolution that would outline steps towards a peace agreement, including pressurising Israel to stop settlement building and recognise east Jerusalem as the Palestinian’s capital in exchange for Palestinian agreement to relinquish claims for the right to return for refugees and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Jerusalem hopes that Mr Biden’s visit will help restore the strong bilateral friendship damaged last year over prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s very public campaign, including a speech to Congress, against the US-led international Iran nuclear deal.

Diplomatic flap However, just ahead of Mr Biden’s arrival there was an embarrassing diplomatic flap, when the White House issued a statement noting its surprise at having learned via the media about Mr Netanyahu’s decision to cancel a trip to Washington later this month.

This was despite a meeting between Mr Netanyahu and Mr Obama having been been scheduled.

Israeli officials, trying to play down the incident, explained that Mr Netanyahu did not want to be perceived as interfering in the US presidential campaign by meeting any of the candidates.

Mr Netanyahu said the visit by Mr Biden was further proof that despite disagreements over Iran, relations between Israel and the United States remain as strong as ever.

“Biden’s visit reflects the strength of the relationship between Israel and its largest and most important ally,” Mr Netanyahu said.