Abbas is losing support by even appearing for the summit without securing his important precondition – a settlement freeze in all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
a picture of the three leaders together will look like an extraordinary achievement. It might even help Obama and his administration to get the stalled peace process moving, however slowly.
This is precisely the reason why the PA realized that although Abbas set the precondition of a complete settlement freeze, as the United States demanded, he must now, according to that demand, rescind his condition without getting anything in return. The talks Abbas held in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and in Jordan with King Abdullah II brought home to him just how desperately the Americans need this summit.
Still, it’s hard not to wonder about the manner in which the American administration (and even more so Abbas himself) conducted itself over the past few weeks. Abbas stands to lose most from the summit. He stressed to the Palestinian public at every opportunity that there is little point to a tripartite summit before there’s an agreement on a construction freeze, especially in East Jerusalem.
Senior PA officials (like top negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo, who spoke to Haaretz last week) said that going to the summit without a freeze in East Jerusalem was crossing a red line, a surrender to Israel likely to provoke “a third intifada, this time against the PA.”
Abbas was apparently prepared to forgo his dignity rather than replace Netanyahu as the bad boy in the peace process. He understands that no political bounty is likely to come out of the meeting, and that he himself is undertaking a considerable risk.