Holy (Land) Smoke

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JERUSALEM: Bibi Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat are suddenly sharing the same boat, buffeted by the fallout from their Wye peace accord. At least 70 Palestinian protesters were wounded Tuesday in a fourth day of clashes with both Israeli troops and Palestinian police -- their anger sparked by Arafat's failure at Wye to secure the release of Palestinian political prisoners. Over in Jerusalem, Netanyahu faced the prospect of being tossed out of office in a Knesset vote two weeks from now, as right-wing allies bolt his coalition.

Making matters worse for the Israeli leader is President Clinton's first state visit to Palestinian territory this weekend. "The significance of Clinton going to Gaza to address the Palestinian leadership can't be overstated," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "Many Palestinians see this as the single most important event to date legitimizing their claims to statehood, and obviously that bothers some Israelis." The irony is that Netanyahu actually brought about Clinton's visit: The President agreed to visit in order to give Arafat a pretext for reconvening the Palestinian leadership -- for a special vote demanded by Netanyahu. Be careful what you wish for, Bibi.