President Clinton's arrival in the Middle East was greeted with pessimism in both the Israeli and the Arab press. Both the liberal Ha'aretz and the conservative Jerusalem Post led Monday on Benjamin Netanyahu's warning that he wouldn't carry out the next West Bank withdrawal on schedule even if Bill Clinton persuaded the Palestinian National Council to vote against Palestinian Covenant articles calling for Israel's destruction. "Clinton lit plenty of Hanukkah candles yesterday, but the way it looks so far, there won't be any great miracle here," commentator Yoel Marcus wrote Monday in Ha'aretz. "The big winner is Arafat. ... It's been a long time since any American president won such a welcome in an Arab state. But when the dizzying pride of the Palestinians subsides, the peace will remain unfulfilled."
In Yediot Aharanot, Nahum Barnea described Bill and Hillary Clinton as "two gloomy, sad people" who have arrived in Israel at a moment when their fate is no longer in their own hands. "The chances of being driven from the White House at the end of the process are slim, but the subordination is degrading," he wrote. "So much strength is concentrated in the hands of this couple, and so much weakness." Writing Monday in the same paper, veteran Israeli journalist Hanah Zemer predicted that a Palestinian state is now close to fulfillment. "The question is no longer if, or even when, but how; in other words, unilaterally or by consent, and under which conditions," she wrote.
In the Saudi paper Asharq al-Awsat, analyst Bilal al-Hassan wrote that the PNC's abrogation of the charter "in effect means disbanding the Palestinian Liberation Organization and leaving the majority of the Palestinian people, those in the Diaspora and in Israel, without representation." A formalized split in the Palestinian ranks was the first consequence of Clinton's visit, Al-Hassan said. This means that "what is being termed a solution to the Palestinian Question is not a solution, and that the amendment (and abrogation) of the charter is a setback rather than a way out." He added that it was wishful thinking for Palestinians to believe that Clinton supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The furthest Clinton had ever gone was to say he would support whatever the Palestinians and the Israelis agreed on.
The impeachment issue dominated much of the world's press. The Times of India complained Monday in an editorial that "[e]ven as the world watches with admiration the majesty of the process of law in the first democracy of the world, there will also be some wonder about the different standards the US Congress applies to domestic and international rule of law. ... [T]he US has long treated truth as a branch of linguistics." It said, "[A]s its economic and military power has increased so has it[s] aptitude in what might be called the etymological exploration of lexical ontology." Saying that, for example, the United States used the word "non-proliferation" to mean unlimited license to proliferate for the five nuclear powers, the paper asked, "Why should Mr Bill Clinton be impeached for the sin of taking liberties with the phrase 'sexual relations'?"