The Palestinian Authority (PA) is moving away from the principle of a negotiated settlement with Israel under the auspices of the United States because it seems to have concluded that the United States is unable to force or bribe Israel into abandoning its fundamental principles, that:
a) The State of Israel is a legitimate, permanent expression of the sovereignty of the Jewish people in its historic homeland.
b) The 1949 Armistice Lines are not borders. Borders have to be established through negotiation and the permanent borders of Israel may include land to the east of the line.
c) Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and has never been the capital of any other.
In this, the Palestinians have taken a step toward reality. Now the Administration has to understand that Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority cannot survive if they abandon Yasser Arafat's fundamental demands:
a) An independent Palestine with undetermined borders and without acknowledging the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in any part of the land and without an end to the state of war.
b) A capital in Jerusalem without acknowledging Jewish rights or history in the city.
c) The right of Palestinians who claim to have come from pre-1967 Israel and their descendants to take up residency within pre-1967 Israel.
The goals have always been entirely incompatible and one can hope the Administration is ready to admit it and move on. The road thus far has been ugly.
After excoriating Israel for offering provisional administrative approval for the building of apartments in the old "No Man's Land" that separated the eastern and western sectors of Jerusalem from 1949-1967, the Administration extracted a 9-month promise from Israel not to build houses for Jews east of the Armistice Line. The Administration failed to bring the Palestinians into serious talks.
In the meantime, WikiLeaks showed that the Administration deliberately miscast the centrality of Palestine in Middle East politics. The President said ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the necessary precursor to bringing the Arabs into a coalition to oppose Iran, but the Arabs - led by Saudi Arabia in no uncertain terms - pleaded with the Administration to tackle Iran first and Iran only. The American emperor was shown to be without clothes and Administration was forced to acknowledge that the "settlement freeze" policy is dead.
The PA is now talking about going to the UN for recognition of statehood and abrogating its agreements with Israel - specifically the Oslo Accords and the Road Map - and finding countries that will call Palestine a country. Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay obliged. The British Foreign Secretary signed a "treaty between nations" with the PA, which a British government website called, "the first ever bilateral treaty between the two nations."
But the problem isn't getting the world to recognize "Palestine" - it's been trying since 1947 to midwife a Palestinian Arab state. The problem remains as it always has been: the Arab states refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel and without that, the Palestinians can't do it.
If the Administration is inclined to continue the dance, it would be well advised to put its energy into the righting the historic wrong done to Israel at its birth in 1948 - the attack on its independence by the Arab states and their continuing refusal to meet the terms of UN Resolution 242 that entitle Israel to "secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
The Palestinians can catch up whenever they choose.