Let's call it the benefit from the diversionary theory. Mahmoud Abbas lost its power after losing the election in June against the Hamas. The meeting will be held in Annapolis is reflecting Abbas regime's growing concerns over the Hamas.
Abbas should do something for his domestic popularity. To do this task, he is diverting people's attention to international affairs-Mideast peace conference. People used to say that he is a 'moderate' leader. But, his attitude is not only caused from his political philosophy, but also from his intention to reverse his political situation. Because 'moderate' means that there is enough room for changes.
In turn, Bush administration was benefited from the so called 'diversionary theory.' You're right and the author of this article from the NYT is right. It is surely stagecraft, not statecraft.