Has he ever been to Israel? Does he talk to anyone there? Noah Pollak explains why today's column is so fatuous. My opposition to the settlement project is steadfast, and I of course agree with Cohen that it is damaging to Israel. But to write a whole column about the challenges facing Israel and not mention Hamas once? Pollak would probably disagree, but for my money the best column written recently about Middle East peace has come from Aaron Miller, who published in the Jerusalem Post a column so bracing it's making me rethink my semi-optimistic view that Hillary Clinton -- or anyone -- might be able to pull something off in the next couple of years:
The dysfunction and confusion in Palestine make a conflict-ending agreement almost impossible. The divisions between Hamas (itself divided) and Fatah (even more divided) are now geographic, political and hard to bridge. Until the Palestinian national movement finds a way to impose a monopoly over the forces of violence in Palestinian society, it cannot move to statehood. The hallmark of any state's credibility (from Sweden, to Egypt, to Poland) is its control over all the guns. Criminal activity is one thing; allowing political groups to challenge the state, or its neighbors, with violence is quite another. What Palestinian leader can claim to speak for all Palestinians or negotiate an agreement against the backdrop of a separate entity which controls 1.3 million Palestinians, possesses a different view of governance and nation-building and often attacks its neighbor? And what Israeli prime minister could ever make concessions to a Palestinian leader who doesn't control all of the guns? There is no solution to this problem now. Only by restoring unity to the Palestinian house will a conflict-ending agreement be possible. And that agreement will have to take into account the needs of both Israel and a unified Fatah-Hamas negotiating position which doesn't reflect Hamas's extreme views and irredentism.