Just a thought about the new Hamas leader.
He has gone on record and stated plainly that the U.S. is not going to be a target of Hamas attacks. This is a very astute move.
The patience with Israel around the world is growing very thin. This is not mere anti-Semitism that many Jewish leaders automatically rail against every time the Jews are criticized. There is a growing disgust with the manner in which the Israeli government treats the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. This disgust is a direct result of our concepts of Western democracy and equal rights. Since the victory of Israel against its neighbors decades ago, the Jewish population has oppressed the Palestinian refugees in a system akin to apartheid in South Africa.
For a while here, since the beginning of the second intifada and significant increase in civilian bombings, the Palestinians were losing a lot of credibility. Of course the Israelis have the right to crack down on terrorists!
Even in the Yassin killing, Israel is fully justified in the eyes of many to have undertaken the operation.
But now the new leader of Hamas has done something very smart. He has focused his war onto a single opponent - Israel. This changes the dynamics of the war from one of Hamas vs. Israel/U.S. to only Hamas vs. Israel. The U.S. is now given the chance to disengage themselves from Israel. It also forces Israel to deal with Hamas as an opponent in a civil war rather than as part of an overarching War on Terrorism.
Bush has already taken the position that a Palestinian homeland is inevitable and desirable, and this is Hamas giving the U.S. the chance to push that position. If the U.S. is able to make Israel realize that they will lose American support unless the Jewish population stops treating the Palestinian refugees as interlopers, then we may see significant progress towards peace in Israel.
OTOH, we may see Israel lash out uninhibitedly against the Palestinians. However, the international backlash, including the possible invasion of Israel and arrest of Israeli leaders for violations of international human rights laws, would most likely put a damper on such a large Jewish offensive.
It doesn't look like the U.S. has any inclination to take the chance to disengage, if the public statements of American diplomats are any indication, though. It's too bad. This could have been a way of protecting the U.S. from increased terrorist attacks coming from opponents of Israel.