US Vice President Biden to visit Israel March 8

JERUSALEM – US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Israel on March 8 for a two-day visit, Israel's government said Wednesday, March 2, with talks expected to include defense aid and Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Talks between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also include the conflict in neighboring Syria.

It was unclear whether Biden would visit the Palestinian territories.

Israel and the United States have been seeking to move past deep disagreement over the Iran nuclear accord, which Netanyahu strongly opposed, and work out a new 10-year defence aid package for the Jewish state.

But his visit comes amid a 5-month wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories that has killed 180 Palestinians as well as 28 Israelis, an American, a Sudanese and an Eritrean, according to an Agence France-Presse toll.

Most of the Palestinians who died in the violence were killed by Israeli forces while carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.

Others were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes or demonstrations.

International efforts to end the violence have so far failed.

Biden last visited for the funeral of former prime minister Ariel Sharon in January 2014.

Another visit by the vice president 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.

Such settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace efforts.