Obama invites Netanyahu, Abbas for talks



Obama invited both the leaders to a trilateral summit to be held on the margins of the opening of the UN General Assembly in spite of fundamental differences between the sides on conditions for negotiations. 

Abbas initially conditioned any encounter with Netanyahu on his agreement to halt all Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  Netanyahu refused. Therefore, Abbas’ attendance amounts to a diplomatic victory for Netanyahu and a defeat for Abbas who is under great pressure not to meet the Israeli until settlement construction is halted.
His aides have made it clear, however, that participation in a summit ordered by Obama does not mean Abbas will agree to negotiate. He argues that Israel must stop colonising land claimed by the Palestinians for their state, agree to discuss all core issues, including the fate of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, and complete a final deal within two years, a timetable set by Obama.  Israel dismisses all these demands. 

Abbas is taking a great risk by attending the summit. His credibility with Palestinians and Arabs is very low.  A retired Arab ambassador said Abbas has been “co-opted not only by the US but also by Israel.”  Therefore, he is seen by Palestinians and Arabs as “Israel’s man” rather than Palestinian president working for their interests.  

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