Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has agreed to the Quartet’s proposal for renewed talks with the Palestinian Authority and may have check-mated Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who cannot back down from his strategy of asking the United Nations for recognition of the PA as a sovereign nation without talks with Israel.
The Prime Minister met with senior Cabinet ministers Tuesday night, who decided to accept the proposal for direct talks next month for the first time in two years.
The Quartet proposed a timetable for renewed talks and for a final settlement but did not meet Abbas’ demand for a total freeze of Jewish building in Judea and Samaria and in large areas of Jerusalem, which he insists on seizing for the capital of the PA.
"The Palestinians cannot negotiate any proposal that is not based on 1967 borders and does not ensure a settlement freeze in the West Bank," Abbas recently told the pan-Arab daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat.
Israel replied with facts on the ground and announced Tuesday that it will build 1,100 more residential units in Gilo, located in southern Jerusalem and within view of Bethlehem, where Arab terrorists shelled the neighborhood during the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War that broke out in 2000.
Abbas has left himself up a diplomatic tree without a ladder by appealing to the United Nations Security Council. It is far from certain that he has the needed two thirds majority for sending to the General Assembly a motion that the Palestinian Authority be accepted as a full member state according to its own territorial terms.
His U.N. strategy unilaterally changed the rules of the game and placed him in opposition to a large number of Western nations who from day one have supported his demands for concessions from Israel towards establishing the PA as a new country within Israel’s borders.
His failure to force Israel to agree to all of his preconditions, based on the Saudi 2002 Initiative, has left him to be seen as “weak and tired by his own people,” according to an analysis in the Christian Science Monitor, whose editorial stance for years has been supportive of Abbas.
Abbas won wide approval among Palestinian Authority Arabs, and “abandoning the UN route now would be catastrophic to his own standing – at least without something firm in hand,” the Monitor reported.
Rebuffed by Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers and squeezed into a tight corner by Netanyahu’s positive answer to the Quartet, Abbas is left with backing down or going for broke in the United Nations. The PA will meet later this week to give a formal answer, and one unconfirmed report said that Abbas will agree to the Quartet's plan, but it is more probable that it will announce a counter-proposal instead of turning down the Quartet.