Cultural Revolutions

Millennial Summit

President Clinton failed to restart the Middle East peace process at the United Nations' "millennial" summit in New York in September. In meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Clinton made one final attempt to provide his presidency with a badly needed foreign policy success by brokering a deal.

His failure is not surprising, and it may have a silver lining: It is better not to sign an agreement than to rush negotiations because of an arbitrary deadline. There is little room for compromise, either on the status of Jerusalem or on the return of Palestinian refugees to their pre-194S homes. Following Clinton's meeting in Cairo last August with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, it became clear that there is no political will, even among America's Arab allies, to end the current Middle East standstill by pressing Mr. Arafat for more concessions. Having postponed his plan to declare independence on September 13, he can concede no more at this stage.

On the other hand, Mr. Barak's position is precarious and —with a single vote majority in the Knesset—any hint of a compromise could bring his government down when the legislature reconvenes in November. He will need a stronger mandate from the Israeli electorate if he wants to forge a real peace agreement. He has hinted at a deal that would leave the status of Jerusalem open, but that is not realistic:...

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