Bibi Spurns Bill

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The carrot was the "final status" talks Benjamin Netanyahu has long coveted. The stick? Well, there was no stick, and that, according to TIME Jerusalem correspondent Eric Silver, allowed Netanyahu to leave President Clinton all dressed up with nowhere to go Monday. Instead of hosting Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat at the White House, Clinton will be briefed by Madeleine Albright and Dennis Ross on their failure to get Israel to compromise.

The question now is whether the White House is prepared to apply any real pressure on Netanyahu to back down and revive the all-but-dead Oslo peace process. Netanyahu believes that domestic political concerns make it unlikely that Clinton will muster the political will to turn up the heat on Israel, says Silver. The Israeli leader brings his battle with the White House to Washington this week, meeting with congressional leaders on Thursday. Bibi will find the legislators keen to impress pro-Israel voters -- Republicans were falling over each other yesterday in the rush to use the debacle as their own kind of stick with which to beat the administration.