US ambassador in row with Israeli newspaper over settlements

US ambassador in row with Israeli newspaper over settlements

On Friday, U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman attacked a major Israeli newspaper after a columnist criticized his donation to a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. Gideon Levy, a staunch critic of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, wrote a piece in Haaretz about the settlement known as Har Bracha ("Mountain of Blessing" in Hebrew), in which he dubbed it a "Mountain of Curses."

Levy was critical of Friedman, who publicly donated an ambulance to the settlement, where a Palestinian attacker killed an Israeli settler this week.

"What has become of @Haaretz? Four young children are sitting shiva for their murdered father and this publication calls their community a 'mountain of curses.' Have they no decency?" Friedman said on Twitter, using a Hebrew term for the mourning period, as reported by dpa.

Friedman has landed himself in hot water before over comments he made for a radical right-wing website comparing liberal American Jews to the Jews who worked for Nazis in the Holocaust. Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, has a number of investments in Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Levy was backed up by the publisher of Haaretz, Amos Schocken, who also used Twitter to respond. "Mr Ambassador Gideon Levy is right. As long as the policy of Israel that your Government and yourself support is obstructing peace process, practical annexation of the territories, perpetuating apartheid, fighting terror but willing to pay its price, there will be more Shivas." The newspaper noted parts of the Har Bracha settlement which were built on private Palestinian land. More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, which are seen as a major obstacle for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. They live alongside some 3 million Palestinians.