US Ambassador David Friedman at the knesset.
(photo credit: MATTY STERN, US EMBASSY TEL AVIV)
American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is to blame for the crisis in ties between the US and the Palestinians, according to Nabil Abu Rudeinah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman.
Since US President Donald Trump in early December recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to the city, US-Palestinian relations have deteriorated significantly.
In the past two months, Palestinians have reportedly halted communications with the US president’s Middle East peace envoys and turned down a meeting with American Vice President Mike Pence.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has withheld part of a planned contribution to a UN agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees and threatened to cut all assistance to the Palestinian if they do not return to the negotiating table.
“The ambassador’s recommendations and advice, which do not aim to achieve a just peace on the basis of international legitimacy, is what led to this crisis in American-Palestinian relations,” Abu Rudeinah said in statement published on the official PA news site Wafa on Wednesday night.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for tweeting the truth about Havat Gilad terror shooting and the Palestinian's funding of terrorists, January 10, 2018
Friedman has widely been credited, alongside Pence, in pushing Trump to execute his Jerusalem decisions.
Abu Rudeinah also lashed out at Friedman for statements he has made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The American ambassador’s statements make us wonder about his relationship with the occupation,” he added. “Is he representing America or Israel?”
Abu Rudeinah did not explicitly state which of Friedman’s statements about the conflict he was referring to.
But earlier this week, after an Israeli-Arab lethally stabbed a Jewish-Israeli in the West Bank, Friedman accused Palestinian leaders of praising the attacker.
“Twenty years ago I gave an ambulance to Har Bracha, hoping it would be used to deliver healthy babies. 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,” he tweeted.
It was not clear which Palestinian leaders Friedman was criticizing. While Hamas officials praised the stabbing, no senior PA official commented on the attack.
Later in his statement, Abu Rudeinah added that Friedman’s statements were providing pretexts for violence and said the Palestinians are committed to peaceful protest.
“Instead of contributing to creating a climate for peace, Ambassador Friedman is increasing tensions and providing pretexts for violent acts like these that we reject,” Abu Rudeinah said, without clarifying to which violent acts he was alluding. “We affirm that the president and Palestinian leadership’s policy is popular, peaceful resistance.”
In addition to Abu Rudeinah, Abbas has also expressed his displeasure with Friedman.
In a speech in January, Abbas accused Friedman, who has a history of supporting settlements, of living in a settlement.
Friedman resides in the US Ambassador’s residence in Herzliya.
A US Embassy spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Abu Rudeinah also addressed the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict, contending that the only way to end ongoing violence in the Middle East and the world is through the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital along 1967 borders.
The Palestinians have long held that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main source of violence in the Middle East.
However, Israel contends that its conflict with the Palestinians is disconnected from the ongoing wars and disputes in Syria, Libya, Yemen and other places in the Middle East.
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