The Palestinian agenda has been relegated to the back burner in the six months since the Palestinians failed in an appeal for membership to the United Nations Security Council, as attention turned to rising tensions between Israel and Iran, escalating fighting in Syria, and the 2012 US presidential race.
In comparison, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s domestic political standing appears strong because of his activity on Iran and because no opposition politicians have gained traction.
Rumors of the Fayyad-Netanyahu meeting raised expectations for the highest-level talks in 20 months, but the Israelis said that Mr. Fayyad had never confirmed his participation even though Palestinian officials had said he might come. There was no immediate comment from the Palestinians and analysts point out that Fayyad has in the past stayed out of the negotiations, so such a meeting would have been a first.
Seeking a vote at the UN General Assembly on upgrading the Palestinian’s status at the international body seems like the best course of action to return to the world stage because it would once again ratchet up diplomatic pressure on Israel.
But it would also reignite friction with President Obama, whose administration quashed last year’s appeal by Abbas for membership status in the Security Council. It might also prompt Israel to freeze tax revenues it transfers to the Palestinian Authority, a punishment that would break the back of the PA’s already strained budget.
Abbas could also try to push forward talks to reconcile the internal Palestinian rift with Hamas. But that would also risk sanctions from Israel, and the president is likely to face internal opposition from colleagues within his Fatah party who don’t want to share power with the Islamist rulers of Gaza.