US ambassador's reported dig at Abbas draws Palestinian ire

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US ambassador's reported dig at Abbas draws Palestinian ire
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, left, shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, March 26, 2018. (Abbas Momani/Pool via AP)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Two senior Palestinian officials have lashed out at the U.S. ambassador in Israel for reportedly warning that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could become irrelevant if he keeps shunning the U.S. as a Mideast broker.

In comments reported by the Israeli media, David Friedman said that if Abbas is not interested in negotiating, “I am sure somebody else will” and that “vacuums tend to be filled.”

A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. It was unclear if Friedman’s remarks, if confirmed, represent U.S. policy.

Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh said Thursday that the remarks constitute a “blatant interference in Palestinian affairs.” Another aide, Ahmed Majdalani, dismissed them as an “empty threat.”

Abbas suspended ties after President Donald Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.