Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey.
(photo credit: REUTERS/OSMAN ORSAL)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman “a son of a dog” while criticizing him for supporting settlement building in the West Bank.
Abbas made the comment in a speech he delivered to a meeting of the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership at the PA presidential headquarters.
“[The US administration] has said that settlement building is legitimate. That’s what several American officials have said including, first and foremost, their ambassador in Tel Aviv David Friedman. He said [settlers] are building in their land. Son of a dog, they are building in their land? He is a settler and his family members are settlers,” Abbas said.
Abbas made the comment about Friedman after the American ambassador to Israel criticized the PA earlier on Monday for not publicly condemning a car ramming by a Palestinian that took the life of two Israeli soldiers last Friday.
Friedman shot back during a speech in Jerusalem at the Sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism. He read about Abbas' comments just minutes before he delivered his speech.
“Antisemitism or political discourse? Not for me to judge, I will leave that up to you,” he said.
Friedman does not live in settlement, but in the US ambassador to Israel’s residence in Herzliyya, a city north of Tel Aviv.
While the American ambassador to Israel has frequently lashed out at the PA for its policies, he has not made public criticisms of Israel since becoming a diplomat. He also has previously donated funds to the Beit El settlement near Ramallah and expressed support for settlers.
In an interview with the Walla news website in September 2017, Friedman said he thinks the that settlements “are part of Israel” and that Israel is only “occupying two percent of the West Bank.”
Most members of the international community as well as previous US administrations have said settlement building is “illegitimate.”
In his speech, Abbas also accused Hamas of carrying out the roadside bombing that struck PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA General Intelligence Services Majid Faraj’s motorcade in the northern Gaza Strip last week.
“We are fully aware that Hamas is the one who stands behind that incident and carried it out,” Abbas said, without providing any concrete evidence of Hamas's involvement in the bombing.
On Tuesday morning, a roadside bomb exploded adjacent to Hamdallah and Faraj’s motorcade in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, injuring seven members of their staffs and damaging several cars.
On the same day, Abbas’s office said Hamas bears responsibility for the bombing, but stopped short of formally accusing the Islamist movement of carrying it out.
Meanwhile, some Hamas officials suggested on Tuesday that Israel carried out the bombing, while other Hamas leaders insinuated the PA did.
Abbas also said that the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership does not want any details from the Hamas-run security forces in Gaza’s investigation into the bombing.
“We don't want any information from them. We don't want anything from them,” Abbas said.
The Hamas-run security forces have been investigating the bombing and arrested a number of individuals suspected of carrying it out, according to Hamas-dominated Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozm.
At the conclusion of his speech, Abbas said that he has taken “national, legal and financial measures” in response to what he called the rejection of “Hamas and its illegitimate authorities.”
However, the PA president did not explicitly state which measures he decided to take, but he appeared to suggest that he will cut all budgets to Gaza if the PA does not gain full control of the coastal enclave.
“If everything is in our hands, we will take full responsibility [for Gaza.] But if everything is not in our hands, they will bear full responsibility [for Gaza],” he said.
Last year, Abbas ordered cuts to budgets allocated to Gaza for electricity, medical services, government employees’ salaries and other purposes to pressure Hamas to cede control of the coastal enclave. Many of these cuts remain in place.