by Gavriel Queenann
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas wants to "climb down from the tree" and restart talks with Israel, but can't due to widespread pressure, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
According to PA sources several senior PA officials are advising Abbas to forgo plans to seek a unilateral declaration of PA statehood at the UN in September due to opposition to the move from the United States.
However, the sources say the sense is that having announced his intentions to pursue the unilateral UN path, Abbas has "left himself with little room to maneuver and may proceed with the UN gambit simply to avoid a loss of credibility."
"We are trapped with September," one official told the AP. "We don't know what to do after that."
The PA officials, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, said several top PA advisers were having second thoughts about the unilateralist track at the UN.
Among them are PLO second-in-command Yasser Abed Rabbo, PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat; and former PA representative to the UN Nasser Al-Qidwa.
Qidwa noted the limits of Abbas's unilateral UN track earlier this week, saying the PA should still rally behind statehood efforts at the UN, "but we should distinguish between getting support and getting recognition."
"We cannot get recognition simply because the US will veto it," the AP quoted Qidwa as saying.
Qidwa's comments suggest a growing realization that the unilateral UN track is problematic and promises an unclear conclusion that may not only change nothing, but may backfire and trigger a new wave of violence PA leaders cannot control.
Abbas attempt to step down from his self-created political precipice may be due to serious discussion in the US congress over cutting funding to the PA, which comes as the PA finds itself amidst another budget crisis. Abbas had previously said he would pursue the unilateral track irrespective of US objections - and even if US funds were cut.
Earlier this week, senior Israeli and PA negotiators traveled to Washington and held separate meetings with US officials to explore the possibility of restarting negotiations.
The meetings come as Hamas considers leaving the business of politics and governance to Fatah saying its involvement therein has "weakened the resistance enterprise."
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