Palestinian leaders over the weekend lashed out against the State Department, after Foggy Bottom harshly criticized a speech given by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas charted a diplomatic path that would see the Palestinians abandoning negotiations with Israel in favor of international legal warfare against the Jewish state.
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki had blasted
Abbas's speech - given Friday to the United Nations General Assembly - as among other things "offensive," "deeply disappointing," and "counterproductive." Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat responded on Sunday,
telling Palestinian media that Psaki's comments were "irresponsible, indecent and rejected," and that the global community was mobilized on the side of the Palestinians and against Jerusalem and the State Department. Meanwhile, U.S. analysts piled on criticism of Abbas's speech. The Washington Post
published a blistering opinion
- headlined "Mahmoud Abbas’s Dangerous Grandstanding" - blasting Abbas for "mendaciously accusing" Israel of a variety of crimes and for forgoing future negotiations. The Post
more specifically knocked Abbas for "refusing to respond to a U.S. framework for peace talks painstakingly developed by Secretary of State John F. Kerry," and for instead choosing to unilaterally pursue an international diplomatic strategy isolating Israel. Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams had a day earlier
criticized the Palestinian leader for "los[ing] touch with facts and reality" and for doing "more harm than good." Abrams noted that Palestinian diplomats may be facing an unfavorable diplomatic environment, after President Barack Obama had said "very little about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict other than to remark that it is simply not central." Abbas's speech, however, may not have improved the Palestinians' diplomatic position. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman worried earlier this week
that Abbas could not be taken as a reliable peace partner given the content and tone of his speech. Israeli officials nonetheless emphasized on Tuesday
that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was willing to meet with Abbas to reinvigorate negotiations.
West-African based tech company Code Innovation, with the help of a volunteer team from Chile, Lebanon, Kenya, Senegal and Gambia, have turned to an Israeli technology to create a free “About Ebola” mobile application to support public health outreach and communication efforts to educate the public about Ebola viral disease. The Snapp apps builder technology is the brainchild of Vito Margiotta, Assaf Kindler and Gabriel Gurovich from the Singularity University. Snapp lets anyone with an idea produce a mobile app from any smartphone via its free platform. It took 11 days for the volunteers to build the informational Ebola app. The content for the app was adapted from information on the websites of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. It was translated into African languages including Wolof, Jola and Swahili by a team of volunteers. The Code Innovation team says other African language translations will be included as they are crowd-sourced from the wider public. Moreover, the villagers who own the smartphones are regarded highly in their communities. “In almost all these villages there are at least one or two people with smartphones, and they are very highly regarded, both for their ability to access information from the outside world, and for their acumen in acquiring a device in the first place. So when they tell villagers that they should be doing a lot of washing with soap and water – one of the methods the app lists as a way to prevent Ebola – the villagers are likely to listen,” Kindler told Times of Israel. (via Israel21c)