The Multilateral Working Group on Refugees: Cover-Up in Preparation for a Breakthrough
In a ceremony publicized worldwide, in Washington in September of 1993 Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a declaration of principles (DoP) tantamount to a peace accord. The declaration was the product of neither the very public bilateral negotiations in Washington nor of the five different sets of multilateral talks involving large numbers of states and their diplomatic representatives. The breakthrough came as the result of very secret "back-door" negotiations initiated by a small team of academics and government personnel. I Yet the multilateral Working Group on Refugees (WGR), the fifth track of the multilateral talks on peace in the Middle East, played an important role in leading up to and creating the conditions for the breakthrough. Specifically, the WGR laid the groundwork for the Palestinians to be recognized as a self-governing and self-directed party to the negotiations, for the Palestinians to be represented by the PLO, and for the declaration's substantive provisions with respect to refugees.