White House responds forceable to PA autocrat Mahmoud Abbas’ latest insults, saying time has come to choose between hate and peace, says Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special representative for international negotiations.
WASHINGTON — The White House forcefully pushed back on Monday night against a fresh round of insults from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hurled at a senior member of the Trump administration, after remaining quiet for months through his attacks following their decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Since that December policy move, Abbas and his aides have repeatedly attacked President Donald Trump and his senior staff. Administration officials have declined to engage. But Abbas’ decision on Monday to target the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, as a “son of a dog” and a vestige of the settler movement, was seen in the West Wing as too extreme to ignore.
“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,” said Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special representative for international negotiations. “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.”
“We are finalizing our plan for peace,” he added, “and we will advance it when circumstances are right.”
Heather Nauert, spokesperson and acting undersecretary for public diplomacy, called Abbas’ comments “outrageous and unhelpful.”
“We urge the Palestinian Authority to focus its efforts on improving the lives of the Palestinian people and advancing the cause of peace,” Nauert said. “The administration remains fully committed to those goals.”
Over the last three months, Abbas has said that Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv as the “slap of the century” – a move that, in Abbas’ view, disqualifies him from any role in future peace talks between the PA and Israel. His aides have dismissed Greenblatt as a “Zionist,” told US ambassador Nikki Haley to “shut up,” and have repeatedly criticized Friedman over his sympathy for the settler movement.
In that time, Trump administration officials have accepted the rhetoric as an understandable venting of anger in light of the Jerusalem moves. But Greenblatt’s new remarks suggest they have reached their limit of tolerance, as they put final touches on the president’s peace plan.
The plan “won’t be loved by either side, and it won’t be hated by either side,” Haley told a Chicago university last month.
The administration has declined to say when details of the plan will be published.
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