Out of Conviction, Not out of Options
Abbas is making concessions unacceptable to his people out of deep conviction in peace and unwavering commitment to peaceful negotiations and not because he is out of options.
One of his options was reported in an interview with The New York Times on this February 2, when Abbas said that he had been "resisting pressure" from the Palestinian street and leadership to join the United Nations agencies for which his staff "had presented 63 applications ready for his signature."
In 2012 the UNGA recognized Palestine as an observer non-member state; reapplying for the recognition of Palestine as a member state is another option postponed by Abbas to give the resumed negotiations with Israel a chance.
Reconciliation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip is a third option that Abbas has been maneuvering not to make since 2005 in order not to alienate Israel and the US away from peace talks because they condemn it as a terrorist organization.
Suspension of the security coordination with Israel is also a possible option, which his predecessor Arafat used to test now and then.
Looking for other players to join the US in co-sponsoring the peace talks with Israel is an option that Abbas made clear in his latest visit to Moscow. " We would like other parties, such as Russia, the European Union , China and UN, to play an influential role in these talks," the Voice of Russia quoted him as saying on last January 24.
Israel 's DEBKAfile in an exclusive report on last January 24 considered his Moscow visit an "exit from the Kerry peace initiative," labeling it a "diplomatic Intifada" and a "defection" that caught Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "unprepared."
Abbas' representative Jibril al-Rjoub on January 27 was in the Iranian capital Tehran for the first time in many years. "Our openness to Iran is a Palestinian interest and part of our strategy to open to the whole world," al-Rjoub said. Three days later the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi daily reported that Abbas will be invited to visit Iran soon with the aim of "rehabilitating" the bilateral ties. The Central committee of Fatah, which Abbas leads, on this February 3 said that al-Rjoub's Tehran visit " comes in line with maintaining international relations in favor of the high interests of our people and the Palestinian cause."
Opening up to erstwhile "hostile" nations like Iran and Syria is more likely a tactical maneuvering than a strategic shift by Abbas, meant to send the message that all Abbas' options are open.
However his strategic option would undeniably be to honor his previous repeated threats of resignation, to leave the Israeli Occupation Forces to fend for themselves face to face with the Palestinian people whose status quo is no more sustainable.
Speaking in Munich , Germany , Kerry on this February 1 conveyed the message bluntly: "Today's status quo, absolutely to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained," Kerry said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "It is not sustainable." Last November, Kerry warned that Israel would face a Palestinian "third Intifada" if his sponsored talks see no breakthrough.
The loss of Abbas by resignation or by nature would for sure end Kerry's peace mission and make his warning come true.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Email address removed