Arafat, Netanyahu Face Domestic Pressure

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This week it was Yasser Arafat's posturing -- rather than Bibi Netanyahu's -- that threatened the Wye Accord. Israel's parliament endorsed Wye by a handy majority Tuesday, after Netanyahu accepted Arafat's retraction of his warning on Sunday that "our rifle is ready."

"Arafat's fiery rhetoric was designed to rally Fatah behind him in the face of an internal rebellion," says Beyer. "But he went too far and immediately regretted it." When Netanyahu threatened to stop the whole process, Arafat called Dennis Ross and had the U.S. mediator help him compose his retraction. Still, it's not clear whether Israel will proceed with troop withdrawals scheduled for later this week. "There's no enthusiasm for this on the Israeli side," says Beyer. "Netanyahu doesn't want to give up territory, but domestic and international realities leave him no option." So when it comes to the "final status" negotiations that began Wednesday, the two sides may well be talking through gritted teeth.