Israeli officials on Monday told The Jerusalem Post that US President Barack Obama should hold off on his efforts to ram through a Middle East peace deal until after the upcoming Palestinian elections.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared January 24 as election day last Friday, and Jerusalem believes he will become more intractable than ever as he plays to the Palestinian street prior to the poll. The officials attributed the recent hardening of Abbas' positions to his intent to hold elections in the near future.
With little or no flexibility on the Palestinian side, and any Israeli leader unable to meet 100 percent of Palestinian demands, now is simply not an opportune time for Washington to be pushing negotiations.
Nevertheless, US envoy George Mitchell is expected to return to the region later this week to do just that.
Mitchell's hurried return may also be in response to messages sent by Abbas to the White House threatening to resign and not run in the upcoming election, as reported by Israel's Channel 10 News. Washington views Abbas as a "moderate" leader, and one of only a few Palestinian leaders capable of being a true peace partner for Israel.
Playing on that sentiment, Abbas reportedly wrote to Obama that he feels abandoned by the US leader's failure to more quickly extract Israeli concessions and Obama's delaying of a UN vote on the Goldstone Report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza.
According to the report, Obama immediately phoned Abbas to coddle and calm him.