TEL – AVIV – President Donald Trump’s special Middle East envoy slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday for calling the U.S. ambassador to Israel a “son of a dog” and choosing “hateful rhetoric” over bettering the lives of his people.
Jason Greenblatt added, however, that despite the “highly inappropriate insults,” the White House remains “committed to the Palestinian people” and the administration’s peace proposal is in its final stages.
“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,” Greenblatt said in a statement.
“Notwithstanding his highly inappropriate insults against members of the Trump administration, the latest iteration being his insult of my good friend and colleague Ambassador Friedman, we are committed to the Palestinian people and to the changes that must be implemented for peaceful coexistence,” he added. “We are finalizing our plan for peace and we will advance it when circumstances are right.”
… we are committed to the Palestinian people and to the changes that must be implemented for peaceful coexistence. We are finalizing our plan for peace and we will advance it when circumstances are right. … 3/3
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 19, 2018
Meanwhile, the target of the insults, Ambassador David Friedman, suggested that Abbas was an antisemite for saying what he translated as “son of a bitch.”
“Antisemitism or political discourse? Not for me to judge, I will leave that up to you,” he said during a speech in Jerusalem at the Sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert called Abbas’ comment “outrageous.”
“President Abbas’s comments were outrageous and unhelpful,” she said. “We urge the Palestinian Authority to focus its efforts on improving the lives of the Palestinian people and advancing the cause of peace. The administration remains fully committed to those goals.”
Earlier on Monday, Abbas gave a speech to a meeting of the Palestinian leadership at the PA headquarters in Ramallah in which he railed against Trump’s December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plan to move the country’s embassy in Israel to the city, accusing the president of “viewing the settlements as legitimate.”
“More than one official has said that,” Abbas told a Palestinian leadership meeting. “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!”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Abbas for his “verbal attack” on Friedman.
“Abu Mazen’s verbal attack on US Ambassador David Friedman says it all,” Netanyahu said, using Abbas’ nomme de guerre. “For the first time in decades, the U.S. administration has stopped spoiling the Palestinian leaders and tells them: enough is enough. Apparently the shock of the truth has caused them to lose it.”
In his speech in Jerusalem, Friedman noted Abbas’ insult came in the wake of two deadly terror attacks carried out by Palestinians in the last week that saw three Israelis killed. The attacks were not condemned by the PA.
“Tragedy in Israel,” Friedman wrote on Twitter. “2 young soldiers, Netanel Kahalani and Ziv Daos, murdered in the north, and father of 4, Adiel Kolman, murdered in Jerusalem, by Palestinian terrorists. Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA! I pray for the families and the wounded – so much sadness.”
Trump himself did not comment specifically on Abbas’ insult.
“No, I didn’t really read his remarks personally,” the president replied. “I think I’m probably better off not seeing them.”
Earlier this year, Abbas described Israel as a “colonial project” that had nothing to do with Judaism, suggesting that European Jews chose to die in the Holocaust rather than go to pre-state Palestine. He also claimed that the state’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion forced Mideast Jews to immigrate to Israel, implying that they were never forced out of Arab lands under persecution.