US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggested that if PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas continues to refuse to sit down for talks with the US and Israel, the US would seek out someone else who will.
Interviewed for the latest edition of Shvi'i this week, Friedman’s comments were the first made by a senior official in the Trump administration to bring up the possibility of Abbas’ irrelevance to the White House.
“Time does not stop,” Friedman said. “If Abbas is not interested in sitting with us and Israel, I’m sure we'll find another official to work with. It's important to make clear: The vacuum will be filled. The PA Chairman is not irreplaceable in our view.”
Following US President Donald Trump’s declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Abbas declared that he would no longer accept any peace plan proposed by the White House, dismissing the US as a "dishonest mediator."
Addressing this incident, Friedman asserted that his feelings were not hurt. “The main ones harmed by this gutter language are the Palestinians,” he said. The White House conveyed the message to Abbas: Either continue using this rhetoric, or work with us for the people that need electricity, water, schools and medical services.”
Friedman also talked about the passage in the US of the Taylor Force Act, which withholds US aid for the PA if it continues to pay terrorists and their families.
“We established a clear message here - you can't harm the interests of the US and its allies while continuing to receive US aid as if nothing happened."