Abbas speaks in Ramallah. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas personally attacked U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman today, calling him a "son of a dog" during a speech at his Fatah party meeting. The U.S. State Department has condemned his rhetoric as "outrageous and unhelpful."

Why it matters: This is another escalation in Abbas's rhetoric against the U.S. since President Trump's Jerusalem announcement. In another speech two months ago, Abbas went on a personal attack against Trump himself and told him to "go to hell".

Abbas's attack came in response to statements by Friedman about Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. In his speech Abbas said Friedman and his family are "Settlers" themselves.

Abbas's rant against the Trump administration also shows that all efforts made by the White House through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab countries to reduce tensions with Abbas and convince him to resume talks with the U.S. have failed.

  • It was also further proof that he has decided to set a collision course with the Trump administration and refuse to engage with Trump's peace plan.

Friedman, who is the most hard line member of the Trump "peace team", criticized the Palestinian leadership publicly several times in the last few months. Several hours before Abbas's attack, Friedman wrote on his twitter account that the Palestinian leadership has refrained from condemning the latest terror attacks against Israelis.

  • Friedman reacted to Abbas's attack in a speech in Jerusalem: "Anti-Semitism or political discourse, not for me to judge. I leave that to you".
  • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu defended Friedman in a statement: "Abu-Mazen's lashing against U.S. ambassador David Friedman says it all. For the 1st time in decades the U.S. government has stopped spoiling the Palestinian leadership and is telling them enough is enough. I guess the shock from hearing the truth make the Palestinians lose their senses".

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert: 

"President Abbas’s comments were 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.  The Administration remains fully committed to those goals."

U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt:

"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. 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 and we will advance it when circumstances are right."

Go deeper

Kushner to Woodward in April: Trump is "getting the country back from the doctors"

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner bragged in an interview with Bob Woodward on April 18 about Trump "getting the country back from the doctors," in reference to the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, according to audio obtained by CNN.

Why it matters: Trump has campaigned on a message of "opening up" the country after lockdowns designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the spring resulted in widespread economic disruption. But some health experts have criticized states for opening up too fast, leading to a second and third surge of coronavirus infections as Election Day nears.

How overhyping became an election meddling tool

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As online platforms and intelligence officials get more sophisticated about detecting and stamping out election meddling campaigns, bad actors are increasingly seeing the appeal of instead exaggerating their own interference capabilities to shake Americans' confidence in democracy.

Why it matters: It doesn't take a sophisticated operation to sow seeds of doubt in an already fractious and factionalized U.S. Russia proved that in 2016, and fresh schemes aimed at the 2020 election may already be proving it anew.

Updated 42 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests, Trump's testing czar saysMask mandates help control the rise in hospitalizations Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Surge is sinking consumer confidence Testing is a windfall.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. World: Putin mandates face masks.