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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