WASHINGTON, D.C.: Madeleine Albright is on the way to the Middle East Tuesday for what one of her aides described to TIME as an "almost impossible mission" in the wake of last week's events. Well, the secretary of state's mission — which she chose to accept — was to spend ten hours a day in closed-door security briefings, cart home a foot-high stack of books on the region. Now she must fly to Israel, and shuttle back and forth between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Arafat in an attempt to cool the war of words that has exploded between the two. Monday's rounding up of Islamic militants by Palestinian security teams helps her; the fact that Hamas vowed to continue suicide attacks against Israel does not. Israeli police were put on high alert in preparation for her arrival. Will she succeed? Tune in Thursday to find out.