Bibi Sees the Big Picture

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Saddam Hussein appears to have succeeded where Madeleine Albright failed -- in getting Israel's cabinet to endorse the Wye peace accord. After days of stonewalling, Benjamin Netanyahu suddenly pushed approval of the Wye agreement through his cabinet late Wednesday, following a Tuesday night phone call from President Clinton. "It certainly helped that the Americans are poised to bomb Iraq," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "The Israelis couldn't afford to be the reason that Washington was being given a hard time from Arab countries over action against Saddam."

Not that the vote clears the way for Israeli troop withdrawals. Netanyahu made compliance conditional upon the Palestinians' voting to revoke anti-Israel clauses of their national charter -- something Washington says Arafat's people have already done. "The delays we've already seen from the Israelis suggest that there'll be more," says Beyer. "But at least the cabinet vote has cleared the first obstacle to implementing the deal." Still, Yasser Arafat may be hoping Saddam doesn't play ball any time soon.