United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Thursday that the U.S. is not seeking to replace Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and doesn’t seek to interfere into their local affairs.
Friedman wrote on Twitter that he “was misquoted in various reports stemming from an interview that published [Thursday]. The United States is not seeking ‘to replace’ Mahmoud Abbas.”
“It is for the Palestinian people to choose its leadership,” he added.
Last week, in an extraordinary personal attack, Abbas attacked Friedman, cursing him and denouncing him as a “settler.”
The tirade came in response to a tweet by Friedman accusing Abbas’s PA of inciting terrorism and chiding him for not condemning the murder of an Israeli father of four in the Old City of Yerushalayim.
According to a London-based Al-Hayat newspaper report, some Palestinian officials have said that they believe the U.S. is delaying its Middle East peace plan announcement, believing that it would be more successful under new Palestinian leadership. Eighty-three-year-old Abbas has signaled no intention to abdicate any time soon.
The topic of succession has been taboo in Palestinian official circles since Abbas took office 14 years ago. Abbas took over as a caretaker leader following the death of Palestinian leader, arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat in 2004, and was elected for what was supposed to be a five-year term the following year. He has remained in firm control since then, refusing to designate a successor while a political split with rival Hamas has prevented new elections.