Two Gazans killed in anti-US protests
Two Palestinians were killed as youths clashed with Israeli soldiers on the Gaza border yesterday in a new protest against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the health ministry said.
The third Friday since US President Donald Trump's controversial announcement on Jerusalem was again billed by Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas as a "day of rage".
Hundreds of Palestinian protesters at various points along the Gaza border threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with smoke grenades and live and rubber bullets, AFP correspondents said.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Zakaria al-Kafarneh, 24, died after being shot in the chest in clashes near Jabalia, in northern Gaza.
A second man, 29-year-old Mohammed Mohaisen, died later in clashes east of Gaza City, it said.
Six other Gazans were shot and wounded by soldiers using live ammunition, and one was in a critical condition, the ministry said.
One man dressed as Santa Claus holding a Palestinian flag was shot in the leg east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, eyewitnesses said.
In the occupied West Bank, clashes broke out in Ramallah, Hebron and other major cities, with smaller protests across the territory, including near the Jewish settlement of Beit El.
Osama Najar, spokesman for the health ministry in the West Bank, said they had seen protests in more locations than on previous Fridays.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had dealt with dozens of injuries during the West Bank clashes, including at least seven hit by live ammunition.
The clashes broke out after the weekly Muslim prayers, with minor scuffles in Jerusalem.
ABBAS SNUBS US PEACE PLANS
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said yesterday that he would "no longer accept" any peace plan proposed by the United States, dealing a pre-emptive blow to a fresh initiative expected by Washington next year.
The comments in Paris came hours after 128 members of the United Nations voted to condemn US President Donald Trump's decision on December 6 to unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
That move continues to reverberate in the Middle East and European diplomats are pessimistic about the Trump administration's peace plan which is being prepared behind closed doors and will be presented to both sides in 2018.
US Vice President Mike Pence postponed a trip he was due to make to the region this week, after Palestinian and Arab Christian leaders expressed reluctance to meet him.
"The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from it," Abbas told a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron repeated his earlier condemnations of the US decision on Jerusalem, but he also ruled out recognising Palestine as a state unilaterally, which France has mooted previously.
"The Americans have marginalised themselves and I am trying to not do the same thing," Macron said, conscious that any move to recognise Palestine would antagonise the Israelis.
On Thursday evening in New York, the 193-member General Assembly adopted a resolution by 128 to nine with 35 abstentions that rejected the US decision on Jerusalem.
The defeat for the US -- despite threats that it might cut off funding for the UN or to countries that voted against it -- was called a "massive setback" by Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour.
Speaking at the emergency session, US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that Washington "will remember this day".
"America will put our embassy in Jerusalem," Haley said in defence of the US move, which broke with international consensus and unleashed protests across the Muslim world.
"No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that," Haley said. "But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN."
Abbas hit out at efforts by the US to intimidate countries ahead of the vote.
"I hope that the others will learn the lesson and understand that you cannot impose solutions by using money and trying to buy off countries," he added in Paris.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the UN vote showed the "illegality" of Trump's decision, urging the United States to withdraw it.