Palestinian and US leaders blame each other for violence

A Palestinian man looks as an Israeli soldier aims a weapon during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 6, 2020. — Reuters pic
A Palestinian man looks as an Israeli soldier aims a weapon during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 6, 2020. — Reuters pic

JERUSALEM, Feb 7 — Palestinian and US leaders blamed each other for a surge of violence, as mourners gathered in the occupied West Bank for the funeral of a Palestinian police officer shot dead during unrest, and Israel tightened security ahead of Friday Muslim prayers.

Tensions were high a day after two Palestinians were killed and 16 Israelis injured amid Palestinian anger at US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, unveiled last week with Israel’s prime minister at his side.

A funeral was held today in the West Bank village of Azzun for a Palestinian police officer who was shot dead in Jenin the previous day. Palestinian authorities said he was killed by Israeli gunfire. Israeli officials did not comment, and Israeli media reported he was shot by troops by mistake.

Palestinians have rejected the peace plan, which would give Israel most of what it has sought during decades of conflict, including the disputed holy city of Jerusalem and nearly all the occupied land on which it has built settlements.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Washington was to blame for the unrest unleashed since the plan was unveiled.

“Those who introduce plans for annexation and the legalising of occupation and settlements are really responsible for deepening violence and counter-violence,” he said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would go to the UN Security Council with “a genuine peace plan”, Erekat said. Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner, the principal architect of the US plan, has repeatedly denounced the Palestinian leadership, a break from decades of diplomacy when Washington strove to appear as a neutral broker. Yesterday he blamed Abbas for the violence.

“I think he does have responsibility,” Kushner said yesterday after briefing United Nations Security Council ambassadors. “He calls for days of rage in response, and he said that before he even saw the plan.”

Israeli police said security chiefs had met late yesterday and decided to increase security “across the country, with emphasis on Jerusalem”.

A police statement blamed Palestinian incitement for unrest, and singled out the risk of trouble during Friday prayers at the Jerusalem holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Palestinians have long boycotted relations with the Trump administration, which they view as biased against them. Washington says its plan offers a path towards a Palestinian state, and blames the Palestinian leadership for rejecting it over unrealistic demands. — Reuters 

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