Mahmoud Abbas has already gained quite a lot from the Europeans. He has the sympathies of the EU and the support of its Middle East negotiators. This was evident during the Obama years, as European leaders lined up behind the American president as he engaged in a campaign to isolate Israel for its settlement policy in the West Bank. It was also evident throughout Abbas’s stop-and-go “Palestine 194” campaign, during which the aging Palestinian leader sought and gained unofficial recognition of statehood at the General Assembly and a host of other UN agencies.
However, there is a limit to how much leverage Abbas can gain from Europe. This was as true during the Obama years as it is with the new administration. Abbas is learning that now as he courts the Europeans for support amidst an increasingly bitter spat with the White House over Palestinian Authority funding and transparency. The White House has the Palestinians on their heels, and the Europeans simply don’t wield enough power to change that dynamic. The more Abbas looks to the Europeans for help, the more power he is likely to lose. In the end, Washington always trumps Brussels.