Vice President Joe Biden said Monday night that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was leading the country “in the wrong direction” hours after a bus bombing in Jerusalem wounded at least 21 people.
In a speech to the Israel advocacy group J Street, Biden criticized Palestinian leaders, but saved his harshest words for Israeli officials.
“I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they’re moving us, and, more importantly, they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction,” Biden said.
Biden did single out Palestinian leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, for declining to condemn specific acts of terrorism carried out against Israelis. The vice president said he didn’t know whether Monday’s explosion was a terrorist attack, but added that the U.S. condemns “misguided cowards” who resort to violence.
Israeli officials have called the bombing of an empty bus parked near other vehicles a terror attack, with Netanyahu linking it to the ongoing wave of attacks in which Palestinians have targeted Israelis in Jerusalem.
“We will settle accounts with these terrorists,” Netanyahu said in a speech following the bombing. “We are in a protracted struggle against terror — knife terror, shooting terror, bomb terror and also tunnel terror.”
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