Even before Benjamin Netanyahu took office, Hamas attacks threatened to derail the peace process. But Yitzhak Rabin had advocated "fighting terrorism as if there is no peace process and pursuing peace as if there is no terrorism," on the grounds that halting peace talks in response to terrorist attacks plays into Hamas’s hands. "Unlike Rabin, however, Barak agrees with Netanyahu that you can’t talk peace amid terror attacks," says Beyer. "Barak wants to maintain the incentive for Yasser Arafat to do his utmost to curb Hamas." But even Israel’s more muscular security services haven’t managed to completely eliminate the Hamas threat. Clinton plans to meet with Barak every four months to review progress, in the hope of having a lasting Mideast peace when he turns off the Oval Office light for the last time. Before that, however, both Barak and Arafat may have their nerve brutally tested.
Yes, but what is he going to do when the suicide bombers come calling? President Clinton has plenty of grounds for optimism over the peacemaking intentions of Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, with whom he held further White House talks Monday following last week’s intense bonding. But with a new season of peace dawning between Israel and the Palestinians, Israelis are bracing for the inevitable backlash of bombing by the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement. "It’s logical to expect new terror attacks, because the peace process involves Palestinians' accepting Israel’s existence, to which Hamas is resolutely opposed," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer.