After meeting in Paris with four former Israeli ambassadors Sept. 21, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly said that he would be willing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The problem, he said, was that a “third party” was preventing such a meeting from taking place. The Palestinian leader meant the Americans, more specifically, Secretary of State John Kerry, who will meet Netanyahu Oct. 1 in New York.
While American sources claimed Abbas’ statement was “inaccurate,” senior Palestinian and Israeli officials alike confirmed that the Americans were not enthusiastic about such a meeting taking place. They believe it would be explosive and cause the situation to deteriorate even further. The Americans have learned from experience. They bear the battle scars of countless disappointments. They would therefore prefer to spend time preparing for such a meeting, honing positions, coordinating expectations and going for a sure thing.