This will soon be the orthodoxy of the new realists. Now that Fatah is imploding at its own conference in Bethlehem there is apparently a need for another designated player on the Palestinian side. After all, the only resolution that Yassir Arafat's old movement could agree on was one asserting-unanimously, of course-that Arafat had been killed by the Zionists. This was not a pronouncement made after a serious inquiry. A convention needs at least one resolution approved for the minutes. Hence, this one. No one contemplated, although everyone had seen it on his face, that he was sick, sick, sick. It was only natural. He had led a tempestuous and rancid life as king of the Palestinians. So what about tactics and strategy for the revolution? The confrontation at the Fatah parley was not about these but over who rules the movement: the old guard or the young guard, which happens to be late middle aged.

If Fatah is actually dying who picks up the mantle? Well, not anybody can pick it up. You have to be anointed ... and better to be anointed by the foreign foreign affairs establishment. Ready to play the play the patsy and rushing to the chore is the Council on Foreign Relations and its unspeakably boring publication, read by no one but sitting on coffee tables in the waiting rooms of the elites, Foreign Affairs.

So here is the new orthodox argument, less convincingly made than I could have made it. But, hey!

There is a logic to this argument for negotiating with Hamas. It's the same argument that would have the West negotiate with the Taliban and, by the way, not so far away, negotiate with Al Qaeda, as well.

By the way, if you want to read a wonderful detective thriller by Matthew Beynon Rees, whom L'Express called "the Dashiell Hammet of Palestine," pick up The Samaritan's Secret, in which Arafat's late life and death lurk as vivid presence and macabre ghost.