A Friend In Need, A Friend Indeed

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JERUSALEM: Yasser Arafat may be useless in the eyes of both Israelis and Palestinians, but the U.S. still believes "he's the best show in town," TIME's Dean Fischer reports. "Placed next to alternatives like Hamas, he looks very good indeed." The way Israel sees it, if Arafat can't rein in militants on Palestinian territory, its troops are more than willing to do it for him. And while Palestinian officials blast that threat as paramount to a "declaration of war," the wobbly Arafat government is no shape to put up much of a fight. Outraged by Hamas violence as well as flamboyant corruption in high places, Palestinian legislators demanded Thursday that Arafat's entire 18-member Cabinet resign, while commentators around the world hounded the Palestinian leader for twiddling his thumbs as the peace process stalls. In times like these, good ol' friendly Washington must seem galaxies away.