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Biden arrives in Israel amid rash in Palestinian attacks

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Jerusalem: Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel today for a two-day visit that includes meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as Palestinians unleashed a wave of attacks that killed an American tourist near where Biden was visiting and wounded a dozen Israelis.

The American man, who was not identified by name, was killed in a stabbing spree in the port city of Jaffa in which a Palestinian attacker also wounded six Israelis before he was shot and killed by Israeli forces.

The attack took place as Biden was meeting with former Israeli President Shimon Peres nearby, at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa.

It was the latest bloodshed in more than five months of near-daily Palestinian assaults on civilians and security forces that show no sign of abating. Along with the Jaffa assailant, three other Palestinian attackers in today’s assaults were shot and killed by Israeli security forces.

“I notified the vice president on the terrible incident that took place just a few hundred meters away from here in Jaffa,” Peres said. “Terror leads to nowhere neither to Arabs nor to us,” Peres said standing next to Biden.

“The majority of the people know there is no alternative to the two state solution … And we shall follow with all our strength and dedication to make from it a new reality,” Peres added.

Just ahead of the visit, Israel disputed a White House claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “surprised” the Obama administration by canceling a planned visit to Washington, saying that the White House knew Netanyahu was considering not coming.

Netanyahu had been expected to visit later in March on a trip coinciding with a major pro-Israel group’s annual summit, but his office said he would not travel because he did not wish to come at the height of U.S. Presidential primaries. The spat comes amid tense relations with President Barack Obama in the last year of his presidency.

The White House said Israel had proposed two dates for a meeting between the leaders and the U.S. Had offered to meet on one of those days. “We were looking forward to hosting the bilateral meeting,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council. “We were surprised to first learn via media reports that the prime minister, rather than accept our invitation, opted to cancel his visit.” But Netanyahu’s office said Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. had already informed the White House last week there was a “good chance” Netanyahu would not make the trip.

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