Throwing Grenades at Peace

Wounding of 64 Israelis won't derail Mideast talks -- prospects were grim even before the attacks.

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A blood-spattered bus station in Beer Sheba may remind Israeli and Palestinian leaders of why they're holed up in Maryland talking peace, but it's unlikely to bring them any closer to a deal. A Palestinian man wounded 64 people in the Israeli town when he tossed two hand grenades into a crowded bus station on Monday, as deadlocked talks between Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat at Wye Plantation were extended until Tuesday. "This isn't going to affect the outcome at Wye," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "Even before the attack, it looked unlikely they'd reach a deal."

Israel responded by restating its demand for greater security guarantees; the Palestinian Authority condemned the attack as the work of Palestinian hard-liners out to wreck the peace process. Both sides promised to keep talking. But not even 30 hours of President Clinton's time at the weekend could break the 18-month deadlock over the interim step of an Israeli withdrawal from a further 13 percent of the West Bank. A final-status agreement may have to wait for time and elections to produce an entirely new cast of characters.