ABSTRACT

In the aftennath of the 1991 Gulf War, the Middle East was poised on the verge of a diplomatic breakthrough. After nearly five decades of sustained conflict, an unprecedented opportunity was created to achieve peace between Arabs and Israelis in this war-torn region. Indeed, despite some false starts and several crises, initial hopes were vindicated: in September 1993, upon the signing of the Oslo Agreement, Israel and the PLO launched their long-awaited reconciliation; a year later, in October 1994, Israel and Jordan concluded a peace treaty. However, within two years, what promised to be an auspicious beginning gave way to a dangerous impasse: as 1996 comes to a close, negotiations are stalled, threats of violence are proliferating, and the 'spirit of Oslo' seems to be dissipating.