Abbas Aide Slams U.S. Ambassador Friedman as 'Settler, Terrorist' After Controversial Jerusalem Photo

Photo is proof that Friedman continues to incite for the destruction of Al-Aqsa, Mahmoud Al-Habbash says, calling for 'an Arab response to the provocation'

U.S. Ambassador David Friedman standing next to a controversial photo he was gifted of a 'mosque-free' Jerusalem temple.
Israel Cohen / Kikar Hashabat

An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' slammed U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Wednesday, calling him a "settler, terrorist" in response to the publication of a photo of Friedman receiving a doctored aerial image of Jerusalem with the Third Temple taking the place of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

"Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to the occupying state, continues to provoke and stroke incitement to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque," Said Mahmoud Al-Habbash, one of Abbas' chief advisors in the Palestinian Authority. Friedman "adopts in full the settlers' claims and all their surreal stories about the Al-Aqsa compound."

The U.S. Embassy in Israel released a statement Tuesday night, claiming the picture was "thrust in front" of Friedman during a tour, adding that he was unaware of its political nature.

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According to Al-Habbash, Friedman is helping extremists to try and erase any trace of Palestinian presence in Jerusalem. "Israel's attempt to falsify facts and distort history will not succeed, even if all the centers of evil in the world support this stance," he added.

Al-Habbash called upon Arab and Muslim nations to respond, saying they must "save the Al-Aqsa mosque before it's too late." He cautioned that Israel is preparing the grounds for a "holy war which will incinerate everything," concluding that the Palestinian Authority expects an Arab response to the provocation, which would call for a clear apology, Friedman's termination and a revocation of the U.S.'s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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On Tuesday, Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) also commented on the photo, calling Friedman a "madman" and ironically commended him for not moving the U.S. Embassy to the Temple Mount.

The photo of Friedman receiving the poster was taken during a tour of Bnei Brak held by the Achiya organization, which aids children who suffer from learning disabilities.

A statement issued by the embassy said that Friedman "was deeply disappointed that anyone would take advantage of his visit to Bnei Brak to create controversy."

"The U.S. policy is absolutely clear: we support the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount," the statement concluded.

Achiya has issued an apology to Friedman and the embassy, saying a staff member on its behalf presented the picture to the ambassador, who was unaware of its content. 

"We wish to thank the ambassador Mr. David Friedman and the staff members for their professionalism and courtesy... regretfully the entire event was marred by a cheap political act, the responsible staff member was identified and apologizes and we will deal with the matter internally in the organization," said the statement.

The U.S. officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem on May 14 amid clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians at the Gaza border that killed dozens of protesters and wounded hundreds more.