Arafat Will Attend Summit

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JERUSALEM: After dithering in the eleventh-hour over whether to come if his ally Hosni Mubarak did not attend, PLO leader Yasser Arafat has decided to join peace talks at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. State Department Spokesman Glyn Davies announced the meeting will take place early this week. While President Clinton hopes the recent violence in Gaza and the West Bank will prod Netanyahu and Arafat to move the peace negotiations forward, a tough session is ahead. Netanyahu refuses to discuss the tunnel under the Al Aqsa mosque complex which set off the violence, and reportedly wants to renegotiate the schedule of troop pullouts from the Israeli occupied Palestinian city of Hebron. Israel continues to insist that Jerusalem will remain undivided under Israeli control, and says the tunnel issue was used as an excuse to riot. Palestinians contend that the opening of the entrance violates the Israel-PLO peace accords, which call for maintenance of the "status quo" in Jerusalem until final negotiations on the disputed city are complete. Adding to tensions are reports that Arafat and Netanyahu might not meet without a U.S. intermediary, and may not even shake hands. "Arafat and Netanyahu can't seem to agree on an agenda for the meeting, but both hope Clinton will vindicate their respective positions, and pressure the other," TIME's Scott MacLeod says. In hosting the summit, Clinton is assuming some risk. A foreign policy debacle involving the stubborn Netanyahu could alienate Jewish voters or send ammunition the GOP's way as the presidential debates approach. "Clinton is probably hoping that the recent violence has concentrated minds, and the talks will produce a timetable for the stalled peace talks," says MacLeod. "But there is no way a major breakthrough can come from such hastily assembled talks." For Clinton, even a minor breakthrough would be significant as he tries to thread his way to a compromise between two starkly different views. -->