A day after Palestinians agreed to stop calling for the destruction
of Israel, Bill Clinton had the chutzpah to want more -- from the Israeli
side. Benjamin Netanyahu didn't help him -- from Israel's perspective,
Clinton's trip represented a terrific loss. And so, in a fruitless
two-hour meeting with Clinton and Yasser Arafat Tuesday morning, Netanyahu
reiterated that there would be no more troop withdrawals unless the
Palestinians made further concessions. Arafat left the meeting early and
without comment -- though he was doubtless smiling inside.
"Clinton's arrival at the Gaza airport is nothing less than the creation of a
Palestinian state, which is huge," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. That
explains Netanyahu's recalcitrance, and his contention that Israel's
soldiers are going nowhere until Arafat also abandons plans to declare a
Palestinian state in May. "In the
zero-sum game that the peace process has become," Beyer says, "for Israel
this visit has to be seen as a defeat." For Arafat, though, even a failed round of peace talks has rarely seemed so sweet.