PA continues attacks on Ambassador Friedman

Saeb Erekat and Abbas adviser ignore US embassy, ambassador's disavowal of picture of Temple Mount.

Gary Willig,

David Friedman
David Friedman
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Palestinian Authority continued its attack on Ambassador David Friedman despite his condemnation of a photograph thrust upon him depicting the Holy Temple in place of the Dome of the Rock.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat stated Wednesday that Ambassador Friedman's appearance with the offensive photograph "is wild and brazen behavior, like aggression against Jerusalem, and whoever does this is trying to turn the conflict into a violent conflict on a strictly religious basis."

Erekat's condemnation came despite explanations from the US embassy and Ambassador Friedman.

The ambassador told Hadashot News Wednesday: "I was more mortified than anyone else, than any Palestinian, when I saw a picture of myself next to that poster. Somebody just shoved it in front of me and took a picture."

"Of course this is unacceptable to me and that the US respects the status quo on Haram al Sharif [the Temple Mount]. It's just an unfortunate thing and I felt terrible that people might have reacted to that the way they did," he added.

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas's adviser Mahmoud al-Habash also attacked the ambassador: "The goal of the terrorist settler David Friedman and his extremist friends is to erase every Palestinian Muslim symbol in Jerusalem and expel the Palestinians from the city. Friedman is no less than a criminal.His appearance smiles next to a picture from which the mosques of al-Aqsa were removed and the Temple is a provocative move that sends a racist message calling for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque."

"The removal of the holy places to Islam is an idea of ​​Jewish extremists who control the occupation government and the confirmation that the American administration is adopting the racist and inciting ideology of the Jewish extremists," al-Habash said.

"We call on Arab countries, Islamic States, international organizations, and the international community to intervene immediately and stop this dangerous process before it is too late." The criminal Friedman must apologize and resign from his duties. The US government should close the settlement called the 'Embassy in Jerusalem' and revoke its statements in the matter of Jerusalem," he concluded.

The picture which sparked the controversy was a real photograph of the modern Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount with the Holy Temple digitally imposed over the Dome of the Rock, was presented to Ambassador Friedman by the "Achiya" organization during a tour in Bnei Brak.

The publication of the picture on the haredi news site Kikar Hashabbat aroused outrage among left-wing activists on social networks, despite the fact that the picture was thrust on him without his knowledge.

In a statement, the US Embassy said, "Ambassador Friedman was not aware of the image thrust in front of him when the photo was taken. He was deeply disappointed that anyone would take advantage of his visit to Bnei Brak to create controversy. ‎The US policy is absolutely clear: we support the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount."