The Palestinian Authority expressed outrage on Wednesday after a photo pictured U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman next to an image of Jerusalem altered to replace the iconic Dome of the Rock with a Third Temple.
“This is reckless, brazen behavior,” said Saeb Erekat, a close associate of P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas. “It is aggression over Jerusalem. Anyone who does this is blatantly trying to turn the conflict into a violent one on the basis of religion.”
Abbas adviser Mahmoud al-Habbash also lashed out at Friedman, who in the past and was personally active in support of the Beit El in Judea.
“The settler and terrorist David Friedman and his radical friends want to erase every Palestinian Muslim feature from Jerusalem and drive all the Palestinians out of the city,” said Habbash. “Friedman is nothing less than a criminal. His appearance, smiling next to a photograph from which Al-Aqsa was removed and replaced with the Jewish Temple, was provocative and inciting. It sends a racist message calling for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Habbash continued: “The U.S. administration must remove the settlement called ‘the embassy’ [in Jerusalem] and take back its declarations on the status of Jerusalem [as the capital of Israel].”
Joint Arab List Knesset member Talab Abu Arar insisted that Friedman, a resident of Long Island’s Woodburgh, “take back your provocations,” saying the diplomat was endangering the “fate of peace in the entire region.”
According to Israeli media reports, the picture was thrust into Friedman’s hands during a visit to an organiztaion in Bnei Brak that works with haredi children with learning disabilities. The U.S. Embassy said in a statement that Friedman had not been aware of the image and was “deeply disappointed” that his visit had been taken advantage of in that way.