Mahmoud Al-Habash, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, slammed US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Wednesday after the latter was photographed holding up a doctored image of Jerusalem showing the Third Temple instead of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"The end result these criminals seek—and among them the terrorist settler David Friedman—is the erasure of the Palestinians from Jerusalem and their banishment from it," al-Habash said.
He called on Arab and Muslim governments, organizations and peoples to respond to Friedman's insult to the Islamic idea.
"Friedman's appearance with a big photo of the Haram al-Sharif in which the Dome of the Rock was removed and the Temple was put in its place is a provocative move and a racist message that incites to the destruction of the al-Aqsa Mosque. This is a clear adoption of the radical Jews' claims and beliefs about the al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem," al-Habash accused.
"Hiding the holy places to Islam in Jerusalem is the racist objective of extremist Jews, which is prevalent in the occupying state," the Palestinian aide continued. "Arab and Muslim countries must take a clear and decisive position that would defend the al-Aqsa Mosque from the plots and crimes the United States is leading against the Muslims' foremost direction of prayer and the third most holy mosque on earth. We turn to all Muslims in an emergency call to save the al-Aqsa Mosque before it's too late."
He noted the Palestinians expect "a historic Arab-Islamic response to this racist provocation from the American ambassador. We must have an apology from him personally and from the American administration, in addition to his dismissal, the cancelation of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the closure of the American settlement that was opened in Jerusalem and called embassy."
Ambassador Friedman, who was visiting the ultra-Orthodox institute Achiya in Bnei Brak, received the photograph as a gift from the institute's directors.
The photoshopped picture was published on the Kikar HaShabbat website, sparking outrage.
The US Embassy's Spokesperson had to issue a statement saying the American diplomatic mission to Israel had nothing to do with the controversial photo.
"Ambassador Friedman was not aware of what was shown on the photo given to him. He was disappointed when realizing somebody took advantage of his visit to Bnei Brak to create controversy," according to the statement. "The US policy is absolutely clear—we support the status quo regarding the Temple Mount."
The Palestinians see the American ambassador as a champion of the settlers, and they consider him the one behind US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Last March, Friedman had aroused the fury of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who called the ambassador a "son of a dog."
"The US is lending legitimacy to settlements. That is what senior American officials have done who are led by their ambassador in Tel Aviv, David Friedman. He said: ‘(Israelis) are building on their land.’ You son of a dog. They’re building on their land? He himself is a settler and his family are settlers,” Abbas scathed.