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The Obama peace deal

Israelis and Palestinians are at war with themselves, as well as each other. This is Obama's cue

By Bernard Avishai   February 2009

President Obama may be surrounded by experts, but no one seems to be telling him what he really needs to know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that both sides are divided peoples.

Most people know, roughly, that Palestine is two entities: a West Bank majority, nominally led by the Palestinian Authority—but really by a secular business and professional class in Ramallah—and an Islamist minority, centred in Gaza, run by an arguably pragmatic but unarguably totalitarian Hamas. What we have yet to learn, however, is that Israel is two entities also.

There is a slim secular majority, a Hebrew-speaking republic centred…

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