Middle East

Abbas Is Counting on a Trump Loss to Revive Palestinian Fortunes

And they have promised to complete more normalization deals for Israel with Arab countries like those with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, which shredded the decades-old Arab solidarity that had underpinned the Palestinian national strategy: No recognition of Israel before the creation of a Palestinian state.

But if Mr. Abbas is anxiously waiting to see whether Mr. Trump leaves office, nearly everyone around him is looking ahead to the day after Mr. Abbas makes his own exit. Senior members of his party are throwing elbows at one another while courting publicity for their own efforts at diplomacy, technocratic governance or popular protest.

“The ship is sinking, and everyone is fighting over the first-class cabin,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former adviser to Mr. Abbas.

People around Mr. Abbas say he has even become fearful that the United States, Israel and their newly emboldened allies in the Arab world might plot to engineer his replacement — a concern rekindled by a recent interview with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi spy chief and diplomat, on Saudi state television.

“With those people,” Prince Bandar said, referring to the Palestinian leadership, “it’s hard to trust them or to think you can do something to serve Palestine in their presence.”

Ultimately, many analysts say, Mr. Abbas may have to eat crow and re-engage the Trump administration, ideally with some sort of face-saving diplomatic cover like the intervention of a multilateral institution.

For now, though, he has tried to create at least the appearance of other options.

Suddenly something of an outcast among his traditional Arab allies in Egypt and the Gulf, he sought to send them a message — albeit one that few have accepted at face value — by flirting with Turkey and Qatar, bitter regional and ideological rivals of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.


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