Bibi Won't Budge

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JERUSALEM: Benjamin Netanyahu is thumbing his nose at Madeleine Albright. Earlier this week, Albright laid down an ultimatum to the Israeli leader: Accept a compromise by Monday on troop withdrawal from the West Bank, or else...

But “because there’s no specific threat of retaliation, Netanyahu’s government believes America doesn’t intend to apply any real pressure,” says TIME Jerusalem correspondent Eric Silver. So the U.S. proposals won’t even be discussed at Israel’s Sunday cabinet meeting, and the Israeli media is reporting that Washington is prepared to extend its deadline by a week.

U.S. envoy Dennis Ross arrives in Israel Friday for talks on resolving the standoff. “Netanyahu is looking for a way of placating the Americans short of the full 13 percent withdrawal from the West Bank,” says Silver. And with the administration -- Hillary exempted -- backing away from tough love by week’s end, Netanyahu believes he’s won this round. After all, an ultimatum that doesn’t carry any consequences simply isn’t an ultimatum.