Implausible as it may seem amid the clamor of scandal, President Clinton this week managed to launch a mechanism for restoring the Mideast peace process
. The key to Clinton’s proposal to break the deadlock is breaking up the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Palestinian security measures into a series of reciprocal phases. That would delay final status negotiations until both sides’ compliance with their undertakings restores a measure of mutual trust, says TIME State Department correspondent Dean Fischer.
Both sides have been given two weeks to consider the U.S. proposals, the details of which are being kept under wraps. “If they’re not willing to make tough decisions, the U.S. will step back from its primary mediating role, which could create a dangerous vacuum in the region.”
So, did the allegations surrounding Clinton distract the President from the business of Mideast peacemaking? “There’s no evidence that it had any impact whatsoever,” says Fischer.