Mourners carry the body of Mohammad Mohsen, who was killed by Israeli occupation forces, during his funeral in Gaza City on Saturday. Image Credit: AFP

Ramallah: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is habitually cautious but, as protests have gripped the Palestinian territories since US President Donald Trump’s controversial policy shift recognising Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he has adopted unusually harsh language.

He refused to receive US Vice President Mike Pence during a scheduled visit - later cancelled - earlier this week, and on Friday said he would accept no further US role in the Middle East peace process.

Washington was a “dishonest mediator”, he said, and “we will no longer accept any plan from it”.

That stance plays well with Palestinians for whom Jerusalem is the iconic symbol of nationhood.

Some 86 per cent of respondents said they backed severing ties with the United States in a recent opinion poll.

Abbas also announced they would seek full membership at the United Nations.

Nine Palestinians have now been killed in clashes with Israeli occupation troops since Trump’s announcement and each one puts more pressure on Abbas not to back down.

“The Americans for a long time have been with the Israelis - more Zionist than the Zionists,” one protester, Emad Mohammad, told AFP.

“But Trump, because he is stupid and undiplomatic, has shown America’s true face.”

Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group think-tank said Abbas would look “to consolidate the international consensus in opposition to the US position and to refuse negotiations as long as there is no fair mediator.”

“Abbas sees this policy as his least worst option,” Zalzberg said.

But he stressed there would be a cost - without Washington as mediator, there would be no more peace talks.

Nadia Hijab, executive director of Palestinian think-tank Al Shabaka, said Abbas would need to obtain significant concessions to return to the table without losing face.

“The obvious thing would be for the Americans to step back from Jerusalem recognition but I can’t see Trump doing that,” she said.

“Short of that, Abbas would look very bad if he went back to talks.”

Israel has also announced thousands of new homes in Jewish colonies in the Palestinian territories since Trump’s election, with his administration’s public criticism of such expansions less vocal than under Barack Obama.

Abbas’s riposte has been a renewed drive for full recognition of Palestinian statehood but observers say that will do little to change the reality of Israeli occupation.

Meanwhile Israel has announced it is leaving UNESCO citing the UN cultural agency’s over so-called “systematic attacks” on the Jewish state.

Earlier this year the US said it will withdraw from UNESCO, citing similar reasons.

The announcment comes after Thursday’s vote at the UN General Assembly where a vast majority of member rebuked the United States, denouncing its decision to recognise Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ignoringd Trump’s threats to retaliate by cutting aid to countries voting against it.

In a collective act of defiance toward Washington, the UN General Assembly voted 128-9, with 35 abstentions, for a resolution demanding that the United States rescind its Dec. 6 declaration on Jerusalem, the occupied holy city.

Major allies like Britain, France, Germany and Japan voted for the resolution.

Trump upended decades of US policy with his decision on Occupied Jerusalem, aggravating an emotional issue that has festered since the 1967 war, when the Israelis occupied the entire city.

Many Security Council resolutions since then, which have the force of international law, have warned that Jerusalem’s status is unresolved, that claims of sovereignty by Israel are invalid and that the issue must be settled in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.