You've Got to Recognize
I can't tell you how excited recent developments in Palestine are making me. Although there is no guarentee that this will take them down a road to lasting peace, the fact that the two main groups are having a public dialogue is amazing. I'll let the NY Times sum up the current situation.
Hamas, which now runs the Palestinian Authority, has accused Mr. Abbas of trying to undermine its authority with the referendum. The vote would decide whether to support a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 boundaries, presumably existing alongside Israel — whose right to exist Hamas has refused to recognize.
Because of Abbas' threat to call a referendum, Hamas is forced to either agree to recognize Israel, watch the referendum show support for recognizing Israel, or try to block it. Apparently they have chosen the latter, although none of those options will show strength.
None of this public debate would have happened in the past because both Hamas and Arafat were great at preventing dialogue. Now, Hamas has to either accept the views of the public that elected it, or risk losing support. I don't know what will happen (my hope is that either through the referendum or Hamas accepting the inevitable, Palestine will accept Israel), but just the fact that this debate is happening is incredible.