While the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, another issue in the region was being discussed among diplomats in the halls and meeting rooms – the rise in tension between Egypt and Israel.
"The administration here, and in most other places in the world, understands that that’s the real game," said Daniel Kurtzer, who has served as U.S. ambassador to both Israel and Egypt.
A couple of weeks ago, the Israeli embassy in Egypt was overrun by a mob, causing Israeli diplomats to flee. In August, a string of attacks in southern Israel near the Egyptian border left several people dead; Israeli officials believe the attackers had support from within Egypt's Sinai peninsula.
"For many years, those of us who have been studying or working in and on the Middle East have known that there’s a great deal of anger built up in the so-called Arab Street over the failure to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli/Arab-Israeli conflict,” said Kurtzer, now a professor of Middle Eastern policy studies at Princeton University.
Under Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, that anger was kept in check. But Mubarak was ousted this year, and the interim leaders find themselves dealing with a segment of society that suddenly feels free to express their opinions publicly – sometimes with violence – with less fear of a crackdown.
"They certainly have their hands full," Kurtzer said. "This is one of several major problems that are competing for top attention ... all of these compete now with a foreign policy crisis engendered by mob violence."
And that has many people concerned about the future of an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty that has been in place for three decades.
Click the audio player to hear the rest of the story from CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum: