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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."

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Updated 6 hours ago - World

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A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.