Elements in Gaza are certainly out to embarrass Abbas on the eve of his revisit to the UN, knowing full well that a victory there will propel his prestige into the stratosphere, at least temporarily. Israel is using the tired argument that it is useless to talk to him when he does not control the whole of Palestine. By now the world knows that there is a backup argument to this: whenever the Palestinians are close to a national unity government, Israel, the US, and Europe, will immediately exclaim with horror: We do not talk to terrorists. But the 155 nations who automatically vote for Palestine do not really care if Abbas controls all of Palestine or half of it. They know that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was engineered precisely to produce this division, and they are happy to give the PLO a starting chance. No amount of hasbara will swing international opinion in favor of an Israeli operation in Gaza. Netanyahu knows this, Likud knows this, but they are only striking poses for the electorate. They take the electorate for suckers and the suckers soak it up.
U.S. says working on initiative to de-escalate Syria fighting, with focus on Aleppo (Reuters)