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  • U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and his wife Jill arrive at Israel

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and his wife Jill arrive at Israel's Ben Gurion International airport on March 8, 2016 | Photo: AFP

Published 8 March 2016

Joe Biden condemned "acts of terror," but made no mention of the dozens of Palestinians whose homes were recently demolished by Israel.

Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Tel Aviv late Tuesday afternoon and met with former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv, where he will hold talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday.

He is also scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

The White House has said that Biden will not be pursuing any major new peace initiatives during his visit, even though a wave of violence since October has killed more than 200 people.

During Biden's first day of his tour of the country a stabbing attack in Israel left a U.S. tourist dead and 10 others injured. Biden issued a statement condemning "in the strongest possible terms the brutal attack."

"There is no justification for such acts of terror," the vice president's office said in a statement. "(Biden) expressed sorrow at the tragic loss of American life."

His statement did not include mention of the dozens of Palestinians whose homes were demolished last week by Israel.

U.S. President Barack Obama previously acknowledged that there will be no comprehensive agreement between Israelis and Palestinians before he leaves office in January 2017.

Instead, talks are expected to include discussions on the 10-year defense aid package for Israel, currently worth some US$3.1 billion annually in addition to spending on projects such as missile defence, illustrating the importance of Israel's relationship with the United States.

On the same day, the White House issued a communique expressing its “surprise” at learning via news report that Netanyahu decided not to accept an invitation for talks with Obama in Washington.

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The Israeli premier's office defended the decision by saying Netanyahu did not want to interfere in the U.S. presidential primary elections currently taking place.

Obama and Netanyahu have had a testy personal relationship, worsened by the Israeli premier's forceful opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, which was expressed in a speech to the U.S. Congress.

But they have sought to set aside their disagreements in recent months and work out a new 10-year defense aid package for Israel as well as demonstrate that the ties between the two traditional allies remain strong.

A previous visit by Biden in 2010 was marred by the announcement of a major Israeli settlement project in annexed east Jerusalem.

The announcement drew a public scolding from Biden and it soured relations with Washington for months.

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