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An Astonishing Column from Roger Cohen

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.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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