US-Israel Relationship

US slams Abbas over ‘outrageous’ insult of its Israel envoy

US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the peace process slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday for having called the American ambassador to Israel a “son of a dog,” urging him to abandon his “hateful rhetoric” and instead focus on improving the lives of his people.

At the same time, Jason Greenblatt said the White House remains “committed to the Palestinian people,” adding that the administration’s much-anticipated 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 went on. “We are finalizing our plan for peace and we will advance it when circumstances are right.”

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert echoed Greenblatt’s statement. “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 railed against Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plan to move the country’s embassy in Israel to the city, lamenting that the president “views 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!”

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.

“Son of a dog” is a mild pejorative in Arabic, somewhat analogous to “jerk.”

The Arabic term, however, has entered Israeli slang and is used by Hebrew-speakers to be more insulting than the original Arabic, perhaps the reason Abbas’s use prompted particularly strong Israeli reactions, with politicians quick to denounce the Palestinian leader.

Read More: Times of Israel