In President Obama's blindside of an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, finely timed for Prime Minister Netanyahu's arrival in Washington and the opening of the AIPAC conference, Obama made the following, revealing remark, "I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist."
This is no small matter — everything stands and falls with Abbas's willingness to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or in other words, his willingness to renounce the Palestinians' "right of return" to Israel proper.
Unfortunately, Goldberg didn't press Obama about the basis for his belief. Has Abbas agreed in private conversation to recognize Israel as a Jewish state? If he has, that's a fine first step, but he has yet to do so publicly, and the real test will be to see if Abbas can sell the idea to the Palestinian public. If he can't, then there's nothing to talk about.
Or perhaps there's another option. Perhaps the Obama administration has decided that it's too much to ask Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. After all, in the interview Obama mentioned Abbas' willingness to recognize Israel, simply, and when Obama did mention a Jewish state, it was in the context of Israel's demographic interests. If this is the case, which is hard to believe, then someone needs to explain how the peace process is supposed to move forward.