More worrying for Arafat is the fact that thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israel have launched a hunger strike. "The prisoners believe the Palestinian Authority has sold them out, and this is a big opportunity for Hamas and other opposition groups to seize the initiative," says TIME West Bank correspondent Jamil Hamad. Indeed, some demonstrations over the weekend targeted Arafat's negotiators. The protests may help Arafat press his case right now, but it's unlikely that the 3,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel will start eating again on the say-so of the man they believe led them into battle and then abandoned them.
Yasser Arafat has begun to share an unhappy place with Benjamin Netanyahu -- in the spotlight of Palestinian anger. At least 40 people were wounded Monday in clashes over the prisoner release issue, but Israel's freeing of petty thieves rather than political prisoners is in keeping with the letter of the Wye Accord. "Arafat may complain that it violates the 'spirit' of Wye, but there was no spirit in this agreement," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "The accord was negotiated in bad faith and neither side will do anything they're not compelled to do."