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Expert Claims US Interest in PA 'At All-Time Low'

In Arutz Sheva interview, political scientist notes that Abbas is in a difficult position in talks, neither PA nor Israel wants agreement.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 3/17/2014, 9:03 PM

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Dr. Ido Zelkowitz, an expert on politics and the relationship between the United States and the Palestinian Authority (PA), stated to Arutz Sheva Monday that the meeting between US President Barack Obama and PA head Mahmoud Abbas may take a back burner on the US's priority list due to the drama between Russia and Ukraine. 

According to Zelkowitz, American interest in the "Palestinian issue" has sunk to an all-time low - prompting the US to put additional pressure on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to agree to the US framework for peace, so that, in the US's eyes, the conflict will be closer to being solved. 

The expert noted, however, that Abbas's demands for a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria put a significant damper on peace talks. In addition, the PA's internal politics weakens Abbas, according to Zelkowitz, placing heavy responsibility on Abbas' shoulders but leaving him limited political maneuverability.

Zelkowitz also predicted that, while the PA may gain a boost in international legitimacy from the US-PA meeting Monday, peace talks will not move forward until both sides understand what they want from a possible framework agreement. Israel is only conducting negotiations to save its relationship with the US, while the PA is unable to reach an understanding over a formula to end the conflict. 

Regarding Abbas's ongoing refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Zelkowitz stated that while most of the US and most Israelis believe that making such a demand is a logical and reasonable step, Abbas is unable to accept the condition and it is a key factor in why talks have stalled. 

Abbas's opposition to the condition stems from the existence of Israeli Arabs, the expert claimed, whom the PA Chairman views as inherently Palestinian Arab. Abbas does not want to be the one who decides for them how they should be defined, he explained.

Despite this, he predicted that Abbas will eventually cave to US pressure and accept Israel as a Jewish state, even if Abbas reiterated a refusal of this during the meeting itself. If this does happen, Dr. Zelkowitz stated, the result will be an oral agreement, not a written document stating an official recognition.