The following is a brief timeline:
Fall 2008: Then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offers Abbas a Palestinian state on almost the entire West Bank. Abbas later acknowledged that Olmert had offered him a state on 97 percent of the West Bank. He confirmed that Olmert “accepted the principle” of the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees—something no previous Israeli prime minister had done. Abbas turned down the offer. “The gaps were wide,” he said.
March 2009: Benjamin Netanyahu becomes prime minister of Israel. He says that he wants direct talks with Abbas.
May 2009: Abbas tells the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl that until Israel meets his demands, he will refuse to begin negotiations. “I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he says. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality.”
June 2009: At a major speech at Bar-Ilan University, Netanyahu says he endorses the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state and calls on the PA to resume direct negotiations. Abbas rebuffs Netanyahu’s speech, saying it “sabotaged all initiatives.”
September 2009: Just days after meeting Obama and Netanyahu in New York, Abbas reiterates his refusal to enter into direct talks with Netanyahu. “The Netanyahu government is a real problem and there is no common ground for negotiations with it… so what is there to talk about?” he asks.
November 2009: Netanyahu declares a 10-month moratorium on all Israeli housing construction in the West Bank. Abbas says the freeze is insufficient for him to return to peace talks. “The prime minister has to choose between peace and colonization, but unfortunately he chose colonization,” Abbas says.
December 2009: Abbas calls on Obama to impose an “end game” on Israel saying, “I want him to declare the framework for negotiations and to ask Israel to stop the settlements.” Obama administration officials have said that they would not impose a plan on Israel and that direct negotiations are the best path toward peace.
January 2010: After meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Abbas says he is “not setting any preconditions” for talks with Israel, but then says that “in order for us to return [to talks], there must be a halt to settlement building and recognition of the peace process principles.”
March 2010: Under pressure from the United States and Israel to agree to participate in proximity talks, Abbas delays and says that he must first seek permission from the Arab League and Arab foreign ministers.
March 2010: The Arab League gives Abbas support to participate in proximity talks. During a visit to Israel by Vice President Joe Biden, the Israeli Interior Ministry announces that a municipal planning commission had approved new housing construction in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. Abbas uses the announcement as a pretext to back out of proximity talks.
April 2010: Abbas calls on President Obama to impose a peace plan on Israel. “It is your duty to call for the steps in order to reach the solution and impose the solution,” he says.
April 2010: The Israeli government again calls on Abbas to return to the negotiating table, or at least participate in proximity talks. Again, Abbas says he will only enter into proximity talks if granted permission from the Arab League.
My suspicion is that this weasel just doesn't want to get assassinated.
If they could get to Anwar Sadat while he was President of Egypt, how hard would it be to get to Abbas? Abbas sees his security people all day every day. He knows better than anyone how effective and trustworthy they are. Sadat must have known the risk too. One admires him all the more for his having taken it.
What we are seeing is the assassination veto working in advance.