US Vice President Joe Biden’s ended his three-day trip to Israel last night, which included meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas while American blood was still wet in Tel-Aviv.
Meeting with Biden on Wednesday, Abbas offered condolences for the murder of US citizen Taylor Force, but did not condemn the attack as the US requested. Force was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist on Tuesday while Biden met with Shimon Peres, former President of Israel who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in the Oslo Accords. Biden’s wife and grandchildren were about 1,000 meters away from the scene of the stabbing at the time of the attack.
Press secretary Josh Earnest stated in response to the attack that the White House expects the Palestinian leadership to condemn “any act of terrorism” against innocent civilians, including the stabbing attack that took Force’s life.
Abbas’s response to Biden was to blame the violence on Israel for killing over 200 Palestinians in the past six months.
“The continued Israeli dictates, settlements and occupation are the reason behind the violence and bloodshed,” Abbas charged. He failed to mention that most were killed, knife-in-hand, while attacking Israelis.
On Tuesday, official PA television and social media praised Force’s killer as a “hero”.
Biden presented Abbas with a peace initiative that granted the Palestinians almost all of their major demands, and Abbas responded by rejecting it.
The initiative offered East Jerusalem to the PA as their capital. It also offered a moratorium on building of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, which Abbas blamed for the violence. It required in return that the PA recognize Israel’s right as a Jewish State to exist and to forfeit the right of return.
Both of these developments create an ironic backdrop for Abbas’ statement on Thursday at a press conference in Ramallah with visiting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
“Our hand is outstretched in peace founded on justice and respect for the rights of everyone,” Abbas said. “We are against violence, extremism and terrorism, wherever it comes from.”
In a press conference with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Biden urged both sides to show restraint, and warned that violence threatened to “harden hearts”, making the two sides “unwilling to reach compromise”. He urged Israel to accept the proposed two-state solution.
Abbas decision to snub the American Vice President may be a savvy move since a recent French proposal for an international peace conference this summer will automatically declare a Palestinian State if an agreement is not reached. Pierre Vimont, the French special envoy for the international peace initiative, will arrive in Israel on Sunday for a two-day visit to discuss the proposal.