Friedman, an Orthodox Jew and an outspoken advocate for Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, came under attack for his alleged support of the Israeli settlement program. On Monday, Ambassador Friedman took to Twitter to blast the lack of condemnation by the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the two recent terror attacks in the West Bank and in the Old City of Jerusalem that left three Israelis dead. By referring to the West Bank as “the north,” Friedman drew strong criticism from the Palestinians over his unwillingness to recognize the status of the landlocked enclave as an occupied territory.
Criticizing Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Abbas slammed the US official for sharing the position as US President Donald Trump, who "views the settlements as legitimate.”
“The ambassador, David Friedman, said they’re building on their own land. You son of a dog, building on their own land?! You are a settler and your family are settlers!” Abbas said in response to Friedman's criticism of the PA on Monday, as cited by Reuters.
The verbal exchange between Abbas and Friedman did not stop there. Replying to the PA president's vulgar remark, the US envoy suggested that the insult could be seen as anti-Semitic.
“Three young Israelis were murdered over the weekend... in cold blood by Palestinian terrorist and a reaction from the Palestinian Authority was deafening. No condemnation,” Friedman said later on Monday, speaking at the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem, according to Haaretz. “I saw his response on my iPhone. His response was to refer to me as son of a dog. Is that anti-Semitism or political discourse? I leave that up to you.”
Officials in Washington and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushed to defend Friedman's stance, amid unprecedented regional tensions sparked by Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. While Israel welcomed the move, the PA believes the recognition shatters any Palestinian aspirations for independence and statehood.
“Abu Mazen’s assault on the US ambassador, David Friedman, says everything,” Netanyahu said on Twitter using Abbas' nickname. “For the first time in dozens of years the American administration has stopped pampering the Palestinian leaders. Apparently the shock from the truth made them lose their heads.”
Calling Abbas’ comments “outrageous and unhelpful,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert urged the Palestinian Authority to focus its efforts on “improving the lives of the Palestinian people and advancing the cause of peace.”
Trump’s advisor on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, called on Abbas “to choose between hateful rhetoric and concrete and practical efforts to improve the quality of life of his people and lead them to peace and prosperity.” Greenblatt, who is also an Orthodox Jew, further noted that Washington is “finalizing” its “plan for peace” aimed at reconciling the Israelis and the Palestinians.
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