No Easy Peace

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Bill Clinton can forget about repeating Jimmy Carter's Camp David Mideast breakthrough. Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat arrived at the White House Thursday to open crucial summit talks that will continue at Wye Plantation, Maryland. "Don't expect much," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "Washington had hoped much of the agreement would have been worked out by the time talks began, and that hasn't happened."

Even if the current 19-month deadlock is broken, a final deal remains elusive. The current talks are over the size of Israel's second withdrawal from the West Bank -- they've not even begun to talk about the third one prescribed in the Oslo Accords. And with next May's "final status" agreement deadline looming, Netanyahu refuses even to discuss some issues specified by Oslo, such as the status of Jerusalem. "These two leaders are unlikely to reach a final agreement," says Beyer. "But as long as the talks don't end in curses and threats, Washington will announce that there's been important progress and that talks will continue." Because in many minds, all that's left of Mideast peace is the process itself.