The U.S. has returned to a central role in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. In August 1993 the two Middle East antagonists achieved a breakthrough accommodation, with Norwegian mediation but without U.S. help. The relatively productive meeting of Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat yesterday, ending a stalemate, followed a vigorous U.S. mediation in Washington at a lower level last weekend.
President Clinton as well as Secretary of State Warren Christopher pressed the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the PLO -- and in private the latter two -- to move forward. That greased the way for Mr. Rabin to assure Mr. Arafat he will begin allowing 15,000 Palestinian workers back into Israel next week. Some 60,000 regularly crossed the border to work before Mr. Rabin sealed the borders in response to terrorism on Jan. 22.
For his part, Mr. Arafat named five judges to a military court to try suspected terrorists in Gaza or Jericho, and rounded up a few followers of Islamic Jihad, the group claiming credit for the Jan. 22 suicide bombing that killed 21 Israelis.