Quick Observations About Hamas and Israel

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority government of the West Bank have reconciled, at least on paper. This means the following:
1. Prime Minister Netanyahu has some breathing space. He can claim, with more legitimacy than he had earlier this week, that Israel is under siege; this will stabilize his coalition, and possibly even bring in the opposition leader, Tsipi Livni, to his coalition;
2. It's not good that Netanyahu has breathing space. Breathing space, for him, means paralysis in the peace process (so-called). Israel must find, now -- not later, but now -- a formula that will allow it to withdraw its settlers from beyond the security fence, and to create conditions for the emergence of, at the very least, a more autonomous Palestinian entity, one that would become independent as soon as Israel can figure out a way to neutralize the Iranian threat.
3. The Third Intifada might be only a matter of months away. The first intifada was one of stones; the second, suicide bombers on buses. This next one will be the Intifada of rockets. I think it's coming.
4. It is not Hamas that is changing. It is the Palestinian Authority, which is sidelining Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the man most responsible for bringing the Authority the international credibility it needs to declare independence. This is not to say that Hamas is all-powerful; it is watching with trepidation as its second-most important ally, Bashar al-Assad, appears in danger of losing his throne, which would not be a bad thing for anyone except the Assad family.

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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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