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Abbas spokesman blames Washington’s Israel envoy for US-Palestinian rift

Donald Trump's nomination of David Friedman for US ambassador to Israel had raised concerns about America's commitment to a two-state Middle East peace deal
Friedman has a long history of strong support for Israel, having backed Jewish settlements in the West Bank

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas singled out Washington’s ambassador to Israel David Friedman as the cause of a major rift in US-Palestinian relations.

Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh was quoted by the official Wafa Palestinian news agency as saying that statements made by Friedman in the wake of violence sparked by US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had led to the current “crisis in US-Palestinian relations.”

“The statements by the US ambassador lead us to wonder about the ambassador’s relationship with the occupation: Does he represent the US or Israel,” Rudeineh said.

“The ambassador’s advice and consultations, which are not aimed at achieving a just peace based on international legality, have led to this crisis in US-Palestinian relations,” he added.

Rudeineh was referring to a Monday tweet by Friedman in which he lambasted the Palestinian leadership, accusing them of praising a Palestinian teen who stabbed an Israeli to death in the West Bank the previous day.

Menahem KAHANA (AFP/File)

"20 years ago I gave an ambulance to Har Bracha hoping it would be used to deliver healthy babies," Friedman wrote on Twitter, referring to the Israeli settlement where the murdered Israeli, Itamar Ben-Gal, lived.

"Instead, a man from Har Bracha was just murdered by a terrorist, leaving behind a wife and four children. Palestinian “leaders” have praised the killer. Praying for the Ben Gal family."

A similar exchange took place in January following the murder of another Israeli rabbi in the West Bank, with Friedman blaming the lack of progress in the peace process on the Palestinians.

"An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA (Palestinian Authority) laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace," Friedman wrote at the time.

The Palestinians fired back at Friedman at the time accusing him of a "prejudiced and selective attitude towards the occupation, settlement construction, and the Palestinian just and legitimate national rights."

Friedman has a long history of strong support for Israel, having backed Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Ties between the US and Palestinian Authority have been severely strained since Trump’s December 6 decision on Jerusalem, as well as his freezing of $65 million in funding to the Palestinians which he conditioned on their returning to negotiations with Israel.

Abbas refused to receive US Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the region last month, and declared Washington was a "dishonest mediator" rejecting out of hand any peace proposal put forth by the US.


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