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US envoy behind crisis in ties with Palestinians: Official

Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh

The Palestinian Authority says while the Israeli occupation is the main cause of violence in the region, statements by US officials further deepen the regional conflict.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh hit out at US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for accusing Palestinian leaders of "praising" the killer of an Israeli rabbi near the Ariel settlement in the central West Bank earlier this week.

Abu Rudeineh said Israel’s continued occupation and "apartheid colonialist policies" are the root cause of violence in the entire region.

“The only way to end violence in the region and the world is to solve the Palestinian issue based on United Nations resolutions that call for an end to the occupation and the creation of the Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East al-Quds as its capital," he added.

The Palestinian official also said Friedman's "harmful behavior" was behind the recent “crisis" in ties between the US and Palestine.

US Ambassador to Tel Aviv David Friedman (Photo by AP)

“The statements by the US ambassador lead us to wonder about the ambassador’s relationship with the occupation: Does he represent the US or Israel?” he asked.

The US envoy's "advice and consultations... have led to this crisis in US-Palestinian relations," he added.

“Rather than contributing to the creation of atmospheres for peace, Ambassador Friedman is instead making the situation more tense by providing pretexts for such acts of violence, which we reject," Abu Rudeineh said.

"We affirm that the policy of President and the Palestinian leadership is peaceful popular resistance. We stress our rejection and condemnation of this harmful behavior by Ambassador Friedman,” he added.

The US-Palestine ties deteriorated last December, when US President Donald Trump declared that Washington was recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and planning to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.

The contentious move led President Mahmoud Abbas to formally declare that Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because Washington was “completely biased” towards Tel Aviv.

In yet another hostile move, the Trump administration said in January that it would withhold $65 million of a $125 million aid installment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

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