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Nothing Ventured

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Little was accomplished during Benjamin Netanyahuĺs two hour meeting with President Clinton to sort through the wreckage of the Middle East peace process, though Netanyahu may have gotten what he wanted from the reporters who were waiting for him when he emerged from the White House session. Refusing to recount his discussion with President Clinton, Netanyahu said merely that "the U.S. has its positions; we have ours" -- then proceeded to hold forth at length on his views in a televised news conference. Netanyahu criticized what he described as the image of Israel as the villain in the current impasse. He ticked off five obligations that the Palestinians had violated for five that the Israelis had fulfilled, and bitterly charged the press with the task of presenting the real truths of Israeli innocence. He accused Yasser Arafat of seeming to tolerate terrorism against Israel. "There will always be fanatics," he said. ôWhat we expect is not 100 percent success but 100 percent effort. And we have not seen that." Mostly absent from this meticulous accounting was the settlement at Har Homa, the issue on which he likely will have to bend. To Netanyahu's calls for a halt to terrorism, Arafat calls for a halt to the settlement. President Clinton today renewed his call for a statement from Yasser Arafat promising "zero tolerance" for terrorism, and said he would welcome "any reasonable opportunity" to revive the stalled talks. The President was careful to note that he was not about to force the two sides to a summit, and is not responsible for melting a standoff that grows grimmer and bloodier by the day.