Abbas has bet his credibility on the Americans and their ability to influence their Israeli friends. If Obama sends him away empty-handed it will play into the hands of Abbas’ big rivals in Gaza and Damascus. Hamas will not miss such an opportunity to present the summit as yet more proof of its claim, since the Oslo Accords, that support for Fatah is flimsy. How much longer will Abbas’ police officers put up with being painted as collaborators with the occupation?
The summit’s success will not be measured by the extent of the settlement freeze Obama obtains from Netanyahu. Even the Palestinians recognize that a few hundred more homes in Ma’aleh Adumim or Pisgat Ze’ev will not make a difference in a long-term solution of the conflict. For the summit to avoid becoming another forgettable footnote in the history of the peace process, the participants must return home with a full translation of the slogans voiced in Cairo by Obama into the language of action. Obama doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. All he needs is to update the road map timetable, which long ago became UN Security Council Resolution 1515.
The road map says that in 2005 the parties will reach a permanent solution that will end the occupation that began in 1967. It also says the agreement will include a negotiated settlement on the status of Jerusalem and an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee issue. Two Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, negotiated with the Palestinians on all these issues and even reached some understandings. As President Shimon Peres (who is now pushing the two sides to deal, as a first stage, only with the issue of borders) says, you can make an omelet with eggs but no one can make eggs out of an omelet.