Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has abandoned the bulk of his preconditions for peace talks with Israel, according to officials familiar with the situation, after Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to publicly blame him for the talks not restarting.
Abbas had long made his position on the talks clear, wanting the 1967 borders to be used as a “starting point” in the talks, as called for in the Arab League plan the US has been so keen on. He also wanted settlement freezes and the release of certain detainees from Israeli custody.
Now, Abbas has abandoned most of that, saying some US lip-service to the 1967 borders would be good enough, since Israel is clearly never going to agree to it, and that official settlement freezes are unnecessary too, so long as Israel restrains itself a bit from the rapid construction pace of earlier this year.
All that Abbas really wants anymore is the detainee releases, which are supposed to be what sells the process to the Palestinians. Netanyahu is said to be rejecting this condition, however, suggesting that Abbas may still end up with no talks and shouldering all of the official US blame even after giving up virtually everything he wanted.