Can They Pass the Test?

The pact offers a ladder to climb out of the status quo, but violence, economic failure and a habit of hatred by Israelis and Palestinians could derail the plan

After word of the secret agreement between Israel and the P.L.O. reached the sun-seared slums of the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians streamed out of the teeming Shati refugee camp. They hung their red, black, white and green national flag on an impromptu stage and danced to the music of a small folk band. Suddenly a column of 200 toughs from the hard-line Islamic organization Hamas waded into the celebration, swinging chains and clubs. The melee wrecked the stage, the chairs, even the Palestinian flag, and injured at least 15 people.

In Jerusalem, as the Israeli Cabinet voted its approval of...

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