Albright Breaks No Ground

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JERUSALEM: What were they thinking? Hoping to make the President look good, the White House sent Madeleine Albright to the Mideast to revive the moribund Mideast peace process ahead of Yasser Arafat's and Benjamin Netanyahu's return to Washington next week. Not surprisingly, Albright reported no progress after meeting Netanyahu Tuesday. "Albright's visit is the foreplay to the Arafat-Netanyahu-Clinton meetings, so she's not expected to achieve anything concrete," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "But it's not clear that the Washington talks will achieve a breakthrough either -- the long-running deadlock suggests there's a fundamental lack of will somewhere preventing further agreements."

Netanyahu was elected as an opponent of the land-for-peace approach of his predecessors, and he has skillfully outmaneuvered Clinton by raising the domestic political cost of U.S. pressure on Israel. With the President weakened by scandal, the Israeli leader is even less likely to make substantial concessions. Says Beyer: "Clinton may have wanted to change the subject, but that doesn't mean that anything here has changed."