THURMONT, Md. -- The collapse of the Camp David summit leaves Israel and the Palestinians facing a round of tough new decisions about when -- or whether -- to return to the bargaining table.
For President Clinton, the failure of the make-or-break summit leaves him with the clock running out on his time in office and a disappointingly diminished chance of leaving a Mideast peace legacy.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, meanwhile, faces renewed political infighting at home and a drive by his right-wing opponents to force early elections -- a move that could put peacemaking on the back burner for months.
And Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was heading into consultations with other Arab leaders, trying to forge a consensus on whether Palestinians should consider accepting some form of control in Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. That is more than Israel has ever offered before, but falls short of Palestinians' long-standing sovereignty demands.
As he returned home to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, thousands of Palestinians gave him a hero's welcome, praising him for his tough stand on Jerusalem.
"Arafat is no longer just a Palestinian leader," said Selim Hashen. "He is a leader of all the Arabs and all the Muslims."
Peaceful marches in support of Arafat were held in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jennin, and in the divided city of Hebron, stores were closed during a two-hour commercial strike in support of the Palestinian leader.
After a two-week summit punctuated by moments of high drama, repeated walkout threats by both sides and a premature U.S. declaration last week that the summit was dead and finished, its final ending was both sudden and somber.
"They couldn't get there; that's the truth," Clinton said simply, announcing that the two sides could not come to terms.
The chief cause of the breakdown, all sides said, was Jerusalem, which both Israel and the Palestinians claim as their capital.
"This is agonizing for both of them," the president said of his summit partners, Barak and Arafat. "I think they both remain committed to peace. I think they both will find a way to get there if they don't let time run away from them."
Palestinian sources said there might be an attempt by the parties to regroup sometime in August. Barak, though, told reporters that "I cannot know whether there will be another summit before September."
Heading into the Camp David talks, Clinton spoke of the "profound and wrenching" choices that would be necessary to achieve an accord. He could not hide his disappointment when none materialized despite the grueling talks.
The summit-goers were not left completely empty-handed, however.
The delegations said in a statement they intended "to continue their efforts to conclude an agreement on all permanent status issues as soon as possible." But no timetable was set; Barak said it was important for both his own team and the Palestinians to go home and reflect.
The delegations also said they understood the importance of avoiding unilateral actions -- seen as an implicit pledge by Arafat not to declare a Palestinian state outside of negotiations with Israel.
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