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Palestinian president calls US ambassador to Israel ‘son of a dog’

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Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas labelled the US ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a dog” on Monday during an attack on Donald Trump’s policies.

The scathing comments come with US President Trump still expected to launch a plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians despite Abbas boycotting his administration over his controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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“The US ambassador in Tel Aviv is a settler and a son of a dog,” Abbas said in comments to Palestinian leaders in Ramallah.

Relations between Abbas’s government and Trump’s administration have broken down since the White House recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

The Palestinians also see the disputed city as the capital of their future state and have refused to meet with Trump’s envoys since.

Friedman, who was Trump’s personal lawyer before being appointed last year, is a longstanding supporter of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, considered illegal under international law.

In response to Abbas, Friedman, who is Jewish, told a conference that Abbas’s comments could have anti-Semitic connotations.

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“His response was to refer to me as son of a dog. Is that anti-Semitism or political discourse? I leave that up to you,” he said, according to a US embassy spokeswoman.

Abbas’s comments appeared to be in response to a tweet by Friedman earlier on Monday.

In it he referred to an attack in the West Bank as “in the north”, raising questions over whether he views it as part of Israeli territory, and accused Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) of failing to condemn it.

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“Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA!” he tweeted, referring to a Friday car ramming that killed two soldiers and a Sunday stabbing in Jerusalem that left an Israeli dead, both carried out by Palestinians.

Israel has militarily occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem since 1967.

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Abbas’s government has limited autonomy in parts of the West Bank, while the Jewish state annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

All countries currently have their embassies in Tel Aviv and view the future status of Jerusalem as a matter to be negotiated between the parties.

But in December Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and in May Friedman will become the first US ambassador in the city as the embassy is moved.

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– Bomb attack –

Separately during the speech, Abbas accused rival Palestinian faction Hamas of a bomb attack targeting his prime minister Rami Hamdallah last week and threatened fresh sanctions against the Islamist movement.

Abbas had previously said Hamas was responsible as it controls security in the Palestinian enclave, but Monday evening said it was “behind the attack”.

Hamdallah was uninjured in last Tuesday’s attack, which saw a roadside bomb explode as his convoy entered Gaza in what Palestinian officials have called an assassination attempt.

Six of his security guards were lightly hurt.

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In the speech to Palestinian leaders in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas said if the attack had succeeded it would have “opened the way for a bloody civil war”.

Hamas did not immediately respond to the comments.

The Islamists and Abbas’s secular party Fatah have been at odds since 2007 when Hamas seized control of Gaza in a near civil war.

Abbas controls the internationally recognised Palestinian government, based in the occupied West Bank which Hamdallah leads.

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Abbas has previously taken a series of measures, including reducing electricity payments for Gaza’s two million residents, in what analysts said was an attempt to punish Hamas.

Hamas and Fatah agreed a reconciliation agreement in October but it has collapsed.


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Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and then banned the safety gear

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A Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks -- and banned the safety gear from his office -- even as the southern US state has hit record daily coronavirus death tolls.

Sheriff Billy Woods, of central Florida's Marion County, emailed deputies Tuesday to tell them of the new mask prohibition, according to local paper the Ocala Star Banner, citing the message.

"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," the email read.

The sheriff allowed for certain exceptions, including for officers who work in prisons, schools, hospitals or with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

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Fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes

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A fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes on Wednesday as firefighters battled the flames that had burned 10,000 acres by early evening, authorities said.

The Lake Fire erupted at around 3:30 pm (2230 GMT) near Lake Hughes, about a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles.

Rapidly-spreading flames had scorched some 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) within a little more than three hours, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"Multiple agencies are battling a brush fire near the Lake Hughes area in the Angeles National Forest," the department said in a tweet.

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‘Trump should know how to be in public with a woman who publicly humiliated him’: Trevor Noah jokes

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"The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah couldn't help but notice President Donald Trump's confusion during the Q&A of his daily coronavirus press briefing. Trump was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's pick as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. In his attacks on Harris, Trump seemed to be spending more time defending Biden than he did attacking him.

Trump claimed the reason he was surprised Biden picked Harris is that she was "very very nasty to Joe Biden," he said she was "probably nastier even than Pocahontas," his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). "She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden."

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