Clinton Summit Bores Mideast

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JERUSALEM: Israel may have threatened to walk out on Wednesday, but back home in the Mideast the peace talks are a big yawn. "Regardless of the hype coming from the White House, there's no great sense of expectation on either side here," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "Whether or not the talks reach agreement, nobody here is going to see that as a big deal."

President Clinton remained at the Wye Plantation with Yasser Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu until 3 a.m. Wednesday and later considered returning as the talks threaten to break down in a flurry of recriminations. The President has already invested 57 hours in the talks, but both Israelis and Palestinians don't share his sense of the significance of the summit. "The talks aren't even the lead item on the TV news here," says Beyer. "This whole drawn-out high-level summit is inappropriate for the issues at stake here -- they're negotiating over the details of a single clause of the Oslo Agreement, but Washington is treating it with the same sense of drama as if it were a peace treaty between nations at war." But the glacial progress of even such limited negotiations suggests Bill Clinton will have to look elsewhere for that legacy-defining foreign policy achievement.