US ambassador attacks leftwing Israeli newspaper
David Friedman U.S. Ambassador to Israel, REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The American ambassador to Israel attacked an Israeli leftwing newspaper Friday, questioning whether it had any "dignity" after a vitriolic column.

The quarrel erupted after the Haaretz newspaper criticised US Ambassador David Friedman, personally selected by President Donald Trump, for his support of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It followed the murder of an Israeli rabbi and father of four from the Har Bracha settlement on Monday.

After that Friedman tweeted that he had provided an ambulance for the community 20 years ago and criticised Palestinian "leaders" for praising the killing, although Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said nothing about it.

In response Haaretz, which opposes settlement building in the Palestinian territories, ran a column by commentator Gideon Levy saying that "with Friedman's ambulance or without it, Har Bracha (literally, 'Mountain of Blessing') is a mountain of curses."

It accused Friedman of "encouraging and funding war crimes and violations of international law".

"What has become of .@Haaretz ? Four young children are sitting shiva (mourning) for their murdered father and this publication calls their community a 'mountain of curses.' Have they no decency?" Friedman tweeted in response Friday.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem that are considered illegal under international law.

Friedman, who was Trump's personal lawyer before being confirmed as ambassador in May 2017, has previously angered the Palestinians by referring to the "alleged occupation" of the West Bank and claiming that Israel occupies only two percent of the West Bank.

Israel has full control over area C, which represents more than 60 percent of the West Bank.