Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

US Says Ambassador Tricked Over Jerusalem Picture

US Says Ambassador Tricked Over Jerusalem Picture

JERUSALEM - The newly-opened US embassy in Jerusalem has said ambassador David Friedman was duped into being pictured receiving a photo of east Jerusalem with the revered Al-Aqsa mosque erased.
In a picture published Tuesday night by ultra-Orthodox Jewish news site Kikar Hashabbat, the Islamic shrine on a flashpoint site holy to both Muslims and Jews is replaced by a simulation of a Jewish temple.
The picture could further inflame anger amongst Palestinians, already furious over last week’s transfer of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after Washington recognized the disputed city as capital of Israel.
A US embassy statement said the doctored image was pushed in front of Friedman without his consent during a visit to a charitable institution in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv. “Ambassador Friedman was not aware of the image thrust in front of him when the photo was taken,” it said.
“He was deeply disappointed that anyone would take advantage of his visit to Bnei Brak to create controversy.”
It said it had demanded an apology from the charity Achiya, an official of which had presented the picture to Friedman.
In a statement published in Israeli media, the group said a member of its staff had presented the picture on his own initiative without consulting others. “We regret that a petty political gesture spoiled this event,” it added.
Friedman, who is Jewish and a longstanding supporter of Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is deeply unpopular among Palestinians.  Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in March labelled him a “son of a dog”.
The story of the contentious picture hit the front pages of several Palestinian newspapers on Wednesday.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat was quoted in Palestinian daily Al-Quds as saying that the United States is turning the Israeli-Palestinian dispute “into a religious conflict.” (AFP)