Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is under increasing pressure from a number of sources, including the United States, Britain, Germany and Italy, to agree to direct peace talks with Israel.
Abbas is balking so far, citing the lack of progress in the indirect talks, and insists that the indirect talks need to set up a clear frame of reference before the direct talks can take place. Israel has been calling for the direct talks for months.
The pressure is putting Abbas in something of a difficult position, as transitioning to the direct talks might give the illusion of progress where none exists and take the pressure off of Israel to agree to any actual concessions toward a peace deal. At the same time, a refusal by Abbas would enable the Netanyahu government to claim that it is Abbas’ decision that has caused the talks to stall.
Transitioning to direct talks would be important for the Obama Administration as it would finally give them something to show for months of largely pointless negotiations. Yet if the US could not coax any real agreement out of all this effort, it is unclear how the direct talks will be anything but a PR victory.