Vice President Biden arrived in Israel on Tuesday to patch up, again, relations between the Obama White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a very public and deeply partisan spat over the Iran nuclear deal.
Biden went directly from the airport to meet with former Israeli president Shimon Peres. But even as the men spoke about the need for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, less than a mile away a Palestinian went on a violent rampage in the Arab Jewish quarter of Jaffa that left an American tourist dead.
Biden’s mission is, in part, to advance long-running talks between the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office over a new multibillion-dollar, 10-year military-aid package. Israel is asking for much more money than the Obama administration has been prepared to give, further straining exchanges between the two leaders.
As Biden was en route to the Middle East, the White House expressed consternation that administration officials heard through the Israeli press — not from Netanyahu’s office — that the prime minister was cancelling a visit to the United States, in which he was supposed to meet with President Obama later this month. The White House said officials had been looking forward to the meeting, while Israeli officials said their ambassador told the White House last week that there was a “good chance” Netanyahu wouldn’t come.