Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday called the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a bitch,” and referred to him and his family as “settlers” during a meeting with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, further straining the rift between the Palestinian officials and the White House.
Abbas’ insults came hours after Friedman chided the Palestinian president over social media for his silence following an attack on two Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank on Friday. Cpt. Ziv Daos, 20, and Sgt. Netanel Kahalani, 21, were killed when Palestinian Ala Qabha, 20, rammed his car into a military site. In response to the deadly encounter, Friedman, who has made previous comments condemning the killings of Israelis, posted Monday morning:
Tragedy in Israel. 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.
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) March 19, 2018
The ambassador seemingly struck a nerve as Abbas told senior Palestinian officials, “David Friedman, a son of a bitch, is a settler and his family are settlers and he serves as the American ambassador in Tel Aviv,” reported the Palestinian outlet Arab48.
The controversy continued into the late afternoon when Friedman made a statement at a conference in Israel, suggesting Abbas’ comment was antisemitic.
“I saw his response on my iPhone. His response was to refer to me as son of a dog. Is that anti-Semitism or political discourse? I leave that up to you,” Friedman said.
Before Friedman took over the post as ambassador to Israel he was a bankruptcy lawyer for President Donald Trump and was the president of the American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a fundraising group for an Israeli settlement of the same name.
Abbas also mocked the White House for hosting a forum on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza last Tuesday with 29 nations in attendance, but did not include Palestinian leaders.
“Now the Americans wake up to supporting Gaza after 11 years, we have full responsibility over this sector,” Abbas said.
The Ramallah meeting of Abbas’ leadership council was ordered to discuss an assassination attempt on the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the head of security Majd Faraj that took place in Gaza last week when the officials were due to met with Hamas leaders over stagnated reconciliation talks. The roadside bomb exploded on the prime minister’s convoy on Tuesday, no party claimed responsibility. Hamdallah and Faraj survived the blasts that injured six.
After the motorcade was targeted Hamas closed the offices of two West Bank mobile phone firms operating in Gaza and detained employees for questioning reportedly over tracking the owners of SIM cards who were allegedly involved in plotting the bombing.
But Abbas is not waiting for the results of the inquiry. Today he blamed Hamas for the attack and said, “If the assassination had succeeded, it would have disastrous consequences for the Palestinian people and open the way for a bloody and civil war.”
Abbas announced coming sanctions on Gaza.
“As the president of the Palestinian people who bears the brunt of reconciliation with Hamas, I decided to take national, financial and legal measures,” he said.