JERUSALEM - 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 prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
Tension 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.
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. Abbas is scheduled to address the Security Council on Tuesday and then appear at a news conference with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, an opponent of the US plan who was forced to resign a decade ago ahead of a corruption indictment that later sent him to prison for 16 months.
Israel's current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was a key partner in the drafting of the US peace plan and has fully supported it, is also currently facing trial after being indicted on charges of fraud and breaching public trust.
Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner, the principal architect of the US plan, called Olmert’s appearance with Abbas “almost pathetic.” He said leaders who had their chances and failed should be encouraging other people’s efforts in trying to make peace, “as opposed to trying to grab a headline when you’re irrelevant and try ... to get involved in a situation to get some attention," Kushner said.
“It comes from a lot of jealousy that they couldn’t get it done themselves,” he added.
Kushner has repeatedly denounced the Palestinian leadership, a break from decades of diplomacy when Washington strove to appear as a neutral broker. On Thursday he blamed Abbas for the violence.
"I think he does have responsibility," Kushner said on Thursday 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."
He said leaders who are "ready" for a state “don’t call for days of rage and encourage their people to pursue violence if they’re not getting what they want.”
He said he thinks Abbas "was surprised with how good the plan was for the Palestinian people, but he locked himself into a position" by rejecting it before it came out.
The Palestinian president is going to different forums and putting forward old talking points when the situation on the ground has changed and “this might be the last chance that they have to actually resolve it in a good way,” Kushner said.
Looking back at the lengthy process of drafting the plan, Kushner said that during four meetings with Abbas, “I never felt like he was willing to get into details, either because he’s not a detail oriented person or because he didn’t know what he wanted to accomplish."
"He liked high-level principles, but you can’t solve problems in high-level principles and so they chose not to meet with us again," Kushner added.
The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. They view Israel's Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — which are home to some 700,000 Israelis — as a major obstacle to peace. Most of the international community views the settlements as illegal.
But the US plan, unveiled by President Donald Trump in Washington on Jan. 28 with Netanyahu at his side, envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel, siding with Israel on key contentious issues including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements.
Under the terms of the “peace vision" that Kushner oversaw, all Israeli settlers would remain in place, and Israel would retain sovereignty over all of its settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley.
The proposed Palestinian state would be demilitarized and give Israel overall security control. In addition, the areas of east Jerusalem offered to the Palestinians for a capital consist of poor, crowded neighborhoods located behind a hulking concrete separation barrier that Palestinians call an "apartheid wall".
Israeli officials and PM Netanyahu have eagerly embraced the plan. The Palestinians have adamantly rejected it, but Abbas has not called for violence.
His security forces work with Israel to combat militant groups in the parts of the West Bank where Israel allows them to operate. Abbas has threatened to cut off security coordination in response to the Trump plan, but is not believed to have done so.
Abbas' forces are not allowed to operate in Jerusalem, where two of the three attacks took place Thursday, or near the West Bank settlements. He has no control over the Gaza Strip, where the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power from his forces in 2007.
His policy of cooperating with Israel on security is deeply unpopular among Palestinians, many of whom see it as serving the Israeli occupation.
Those sentiments were on full display on Friday as a funeral was held in the West Bank village of Azzun for a Palestinian police officer, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in the Palestinian town of Jenin the previous day.
He was identified as Sergeant Tarek Badwan. 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".
Videos on social media showed Badwan standing inside a police station, while wearing his uniform, when he was shot. He did not appear to pose any threat to the Israeli soldiers, who were carrying out the demolition of a home belonging to the family of a Palestinian convicted for the murder of a Rabbi in 2018.
The house, which had been previously destroyed by Israel, was being demolished for the second time after it was rebuilt by the Palestinian family.
Israeli police said security chiefs had met late on Thursday 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.