The solution to let all three sides – Israel, the PA and the United States – avoid diplomatic collision is to let Abbas make a face-saving gesture by filing a letter of intent to the United Nations for recognition and then delaying a formal request and agreeing to return to direct talks with Israel.
If Abbas accepts the idea, the United Nations Security Council will not have to deal with the motion for the time being and the United States would have to veto it, as it has promised, if it were to receive the necessary two-thirds support for passage.
Although Palestinian Authority leaders claim they have the support of nine countries in the 15-member Security Council, it is not certain. Failure to receive the two-thirds would be a sign of failure for Abbas.
However, returning to talks would place both Abbas and Israel in a difficult position because of each side’s refusal to accept the other’s conditions. Abbas wants Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to halt all building for Jews in parts of Jerusalem claimed by the PA as well as all Judea and Samaria, where Israel previously halted building for 10 months to satisfy Abbas’ conditions for direct talks. He then refused to honor the commitment, arguing that the freeze was not extensive enough.
Israel has insisted that Abbas agree to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state,” a term the Arab world steadfastly rejects because it would undermine its demand to flood Israel with millions of foreign Arab immigrants.
France is expected to propose to Abbas that he forego a motion in the Security Council for full membership in the United Nations and settle for a resolution of recognition in the pro-Arab General Assembly. Passage of a motion in the general body would elevate the status of the PA to a “non-member observer” from the current status of permanent observer.
Israel faces a problem with “talks” with Abbas because the “negotiations” are in effect a demand that Israel accept the Arab world’s territorial demands without compromise. Abbas has said that a future Palestinian Authority state would be free of Jews. If the state were to be established on his conditions, it would mean that Israel would have to expel nearly 300,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria and more than 250,000 in Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Compensation would amount to tens of billions of dollars, a sum that no one in the world can finance, particularly considering the current global economic crisis.
The idea of “land swaps” has been proposed but is more theoretical than practical. It would mean that Israel would take sovereignty over large Jewish population centers in Judea and Samaria in return for Israeli Arab areas becoming part of the Palestinian Authority.
Polls in the Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem have expressed serious doubts that they would be willing to give up their benefits under the Israeli government and agree to become subject to rule under the Palestinian Authority.
Similarly, Arabs in other areas of Israel would lose their relative high quality of life in Israel if they were to agree to a land swap.