Palestinians call to put US ambassador Friedman on ‘global terror list’
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PA slams 'ambassador of settlements and lawyer of extremism'

Palestinians call to put US ambassador Friedman on ‘global terror list’

Palestinian Authority steps up war of words with American envoy to Israel, days after Abbas calls him the ‘son of a dog’

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attends a meeting of the lobby for Israel–United States relations at the Knesset, July 25, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attends a meeting of the lobby for Israel–United States relations at the Knesset, July 25, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday called for US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to be added to a “global terror list” as it stepped up its war of words with the American envoy, days after PA  President Mahmoud Abbas denounced him as a “son of a dog” and “settler.”

In a report titled “Friedman, the Ambassador of Settlements and Lawyer of Extremism,” the PA Ministry of Information in Ramallah called for placing the US envoy on the terrorism list “for violating international law, supporting terrorism, and promoting ethnic cleansing and black racism.”

It was not immediately clear which terrorism list the PA had in mind. The US State Department maintains a register of foreign terrorist organizations, and Interpol keeps a data base of foreign terrorist fighters.

Last week Abbas launched a scathing attack against Friedman, hours after Friedman criticized the PA on Twitter for failing to condemn a pair of terror attacks over the weekend.

Mentioning US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to move the country’s embassy in Israel to the city, Abbas said Trump “views the settlements as legitimate.”

“More than one official has said that,” he added. “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!”

Reacting to the comment while at an anti-Semitism conference in Jerusalem, Friedman quoted the insult, using the term “son of a bitch,” and added “Anti-Semitism or political discourse? I leave this up to you.”

Also responding to Abbas, US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said: “The time has come for President 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.”

The State Department, for its part, described Abbas’s comments as “outrageous and unhelpful.”

L-R: Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman meet in Tel Aviv on August 24, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The PA foreign ministry then said that “it was hard to understand the American response to President Abbas’s recent speech.”

The ministry noted that Abbas was referring in his speech to Friedman’s “support for Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine and his disregard for settler crimes.”

The PA ministry also took Friedman to task for allegedly opposing the two-state solution and “inciting” against the Palestinians.

“We believe that principles can’t be fragmented, and they do reflect the personality of the one who holds them and impact his demeanor,” the ministry said in its report about the US ambassador. “Friedman’s conduct as a supporter of the internationally criminalized settler project is clearly visible.”

Friedman is known for making comments aligning himself with the Israeli right-wing, as well as for supporting projects in settlements.

In a recent interview Friedman said that West Bank settlements “are part of Israel” and that the two-state solution “is not a helpful term” and “has largely lost its meaning.”

Friedman was a controversial pick for ambassador, largely due to his views on the settlements and derogatory comments he made about left-wing Jewish groups, for which he subsequently apologized. Friedman was a major donor to the settlement of Beit El and had said that Israel can annex the West Bank and retain its Jewish character

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sits in front of a picture of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on March 19, 2018. (FLASH90)

Abbas has made a series of bitter speeches since Trump recognized Jerusalem, and is now boycotting the US administration. In an address in January, Abbas called Israel a “colonial project” unrelated to Judaism, implied that European Jews chose to die in the Holocaust rather than go to pre-state Palestine, and claimed that first prime minister David Ben-Gurion forced Mideast Jews to come to Israel.

The comments came amid roiling Palestinian anger at the US over the Jerusalem decision, with Ramallah rejecting Washington’s role in attempting to broker peace talks.

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