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Will Abbas's rising clout be hurt by Netanyahu meeting?

Palestinian polls show Abbas gaining significant support in recent months over Hamas, which harshly criticized his willingness to meet the Israeli leader without a settlement freeze in place.

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Palestinians work at a construction site in the Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit on Tuesday, before the US-hosted talks in New York.

Sebastian Scheiner/AP

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Heading into a US-brokered meeting Tuesday morning with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is facing deep pessimism from his own people about the prospect of peace – and a severe attack on his credibility by Hamas.

President Abbas's popularity among Palestinians had risen significantly in recent months, potentially giving him more clout as a negotiator. But scathing criticism from Hamas over his agreement to meet Mr. Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York could eat into those gains.

In a statement sent to reporters in Gaza, Hamas said it was "truly shocked" that Mr. Abbas accepted President Barack Obama's invitation for the talks, given that Abbas has insisted for months that he would not meet Netanyahu without a freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank.

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