Monday, December 7, 1998 Published at 12:36 GMT
World: Middle East
Analysis: Wye deal coming off the rails?
Mourners at the funeral of a Palestinian man killed in recent violence
By Martin Asser of the BBC's Arabic Service:
A vicious attack on two Israelis, a soldier and a settler, who strayed in their car into the Palestinian area of Ramallah recently, was a graphic indication of the current level of anger among Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
It came after a series of Israeli moves since the signing of the Wye River Memorandum in October which have once again brought the atmosphere among Palestinians to boiling point:
Binyamin Netanyahu's cabinet is said to have watched TV pictures of the attack on the two Israelis and the cabinet decided unamimously to suspend the Wye River agreement.
Shortly afterwards, an Israeli spokesmen announced Israel was imposing new conditions on the Palestinian side before the next stage of transfering occupied territory to Palestinian control.
Israeli officials say it is impossible to continue with the Wye agreement while Israelis are subject to random attacks by Palestinians. They blame the Palestinian leadership for inciting this situation.
The Palestinians would also have to agree to Israel's interpretation of which Palestinians prisoners are eligible for release under the Wye agreement.
Both Palestinians and the Israeli opposition have accused the Israeli prime minister of exploiting what they saw as an isolated attack to evade Israel's obligations.
The question for Clinton
Mr Netanyahu's critics have always feared he would try to stall implementation of the Wye agreement by provoking violence from the Palestinian side.
It is an agreement they say he never wanted but was unable to avoid because of American pressure to "bring the peace process back on track."
America has called Israel's new conditions "inappropriate." For Washington, this is an unusually blunt and public criticism of Israel.
The question being asked now is whether President Clinton, who is due to visit Israel and the Palestinian areas shortly, can do anything to prevent further descent into violence and kindle a spirit of peace.
The aftermath of the Wye accord demonstrates how flawed and uncertain that agreement was, and how easy it will be to derail the process completely.