At the UN Tuesday, Obama appeared to drop his demand that Israel freeze settlement growth as a precondition to negotiations by calling on it to “restrain” activity instead.
Palestinian polls show Abbas gaining significant support in recent months over Hamas, which harshly criticized his willingness to meet the Israeli leader without a settlement freeze in place.
The respected delegation, headed by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, irked Israel by initially planning to meet Hamas in Gaza. That trip has been delayed.
Not only are Fatah and Hamas deadlocked in a power struggle. Abbas’s own Fatah bloc has rejected his new government.
US solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reportedly include UN administration of Jerusalem's holy sites and no right of return for Palestinian refugees.
But Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's surprise move, some say, could pressure Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas to reach an agreement in Cairo.
On Syria, Iran, and a Palestinian state, Israel's new leadership disagrees with the Obama administration.
Without a shift in the Israeli policy that doesn’t allow building materials into Gaza, much of the $2.8 billion that Palestinians hope to raise at a donors’ conference Monday will be limited to humanitarians needs.
The US envoy arrives at a time when Israelis and Palestinians seem most absorbed with fixing their own houses before dealing with their neighbors.