The U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood is a moment of truth, what it will reveal is that the promise on which the Palestinian Authority itself has been built -- that it is the administrative and security infrastructure of a state that will establish Palestinian sovereignty on the lands conquered by Israel in 1967, and will end the occupation -- is unlikely to be fulfilled either by a largely symbolic U.N. vote or by ongoing talks with the Israelis under U.S. auspices. The dangerous epiphany predicted by Dayton will likely coincide with a growing discontent on the ground as a result of economic pressure, an escalation of aggressive provocations by Israeli settlers, and a recognition that security forces suppressing protest actions are preserving a status quo that does not, in fact, lead to an end of the occupation.
Abbas has called for popular demonstrations to back his U.N. representations, in the way that U.S. politicians bring flag-waving crowds to campaign stops as a visual backdrop for their speeches. The Palestinian leader expects them to express support for his U.N. mission; no more. But Palestinians are far less interested in the status of their delegation at the U.N. than they are about the occupation. And if, inspired by the examples of the Arab Spring, they decide to use the opportunity to wage peaceful protests against the occupation, the prospects for the PA itself to survive will dim.