The independent resource on global security

5. The Middle East: continuation of the peace process




By the end of 1994, the Arab-Israeli peace process had reached a critical
threshold. Despite significant achievements, the future of the peace process
was threatened by terrorism, communal violence and stalled negotiations. The
timing of elections will be a key factor in both Israel and the USA. With US
presidential elections in November 1996 and Israeli parliamentary elections
also expected in 1996, time is running out before several central figures, most
notably Israeli leaders, are distracted by domestic concerns. Many of the
organizations and countries that oppose the Arab-Israeli peace process have
little concern for deadlines. Extremists on many fronts are actively seeking to
undermine the process and bring back the days of confrontation. At the heart of
the Arab-Israeli conflict, Arafat's precarious position is a concern for all
sides. He lacks the funds and the institutional base to quickly provide social
services or economic benefits to the Palestinian people. With the
security-minded Israelis on one side and the Islamist forces led by Hamas on
the other, he has little room for manoeuvre or margin for error. There are
already many obstacles, and the final negotiations on the status of the West
Bank and Gaza Strip are not due to start until 1996. If Arafat were toppled,
chaos could result or a group that rejects the peace process could take

On the positive side, Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty, and Israeli and
Palestinian negotiators produced several new agreements to implement the 1993
Declaration of Principles and begin the programme of Palestinian self-rule. On
the regional level, multilateral talks began to build a foundation for regional
cooperation on a number of subjects, including economic, military and
environmental issues. However, bilateral talks between Israel and Syria did not
produce any major breakthroughs.

In 1994 the peace process moved forward in ways unthinkable just two or three
years ago. All the participants should take pride in the advances and moves
towards peace. However, many significant problems remain unsettled.
Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian progress holds the key to a complete
break with the Arab-Israeli history of hatred and warfare. A final resolution
of the conflict will have to wait until 1995 and beyond.


Appendix 5A. Documents on the Middle East peace process

Appendix 5A reproduces the texts of the Israeli–Jordanian peace treaty and the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jerico Area.