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No explanation given: Palestinian PM skips Netanyahu meeting

Looking ahead, Palestinian leaders face few appealing options for advancing their agenda, which has been sidelined by Iran and the US elections.

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Seeking a vote at the UN General Assembly on upgrading the Palestinian’s status at the international body seems like the best course of action to return to the world stage because it would once again ratchet up diplomatic pressure on Israel.

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But it would also reignite friction with President Obama, whose administration quashed last year’s appeal by Abbas for membership status in the Security Council. It might also prompt Israel to freeze tax revenues it transfers to the Palestinian Authority, a punishment that would break the back of the PA’s already strained budget.

Abbas could also try to push forward talks to reconcile the internal Palestinian rift with Hamas. But that would also risk sanctions from Israel, and the president is likely to face internal opposition from colleagues within his Fatah party who don’t want to share power with the Islamist rulers of Gaza.

More radical options

Then, there are more radical options for pressuring Israel: The Palestinian leadership could throw its weight behind a popular uprising in the West Bank. Alternatively, it could elect to dissolve itself, thereby shifting the costly burden of managing the daily affairs of millions of Palestinians back to the Israeli government.

“The only pressure that Abbas can put on Israel is to dissolve the PA, and Israel will have responsibility,” says Nashat Aqtash, a Palestinian communications professor at Bir Zeit University, outside Ramallah.

But both moves would risk opening up a power vacuum that could be exploited by Hamas.

Though the recent letter appears as a little more than a restatement of old Palestinian positions – including preconditions for the restart of peace negotiations – the Israeli message in response could segue into a low-level diplomatic dialogue like the talks held between the sides in Amman, Jordan, earlier this year.

Observers say that Abbas may be looking ahead to the results of the US election. If Mr. Obama is reelected, some say Abbas believes that the second Obama term might bring with it more aggressive posture toward Israel to make peace concessions.

“I think the US is trying to convince him that the Obama in his second term will be more active at advancing their cause,” says a former Israeli diplomat. “Any of those other routes makes it difficult for the US to be in his corner.”

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