Track-II Diplomacy: Lessons from the Middle East
Edited by Hussein Agha, Shai Feldman, Ahmad Khalidi and Zeev Schiff.
Track-II talks in the Middle East -- unofficial discussions among Israeli and Arab scholars, journalists, and former government and military officials -- have been going on since soon after the 1967 Six Day War and have often paved the way for official negotiations. This book, a unique collaboration of Israeli and Palestinian authors, traces the history of these unofficial meetings, focusing on those that took place in the 1990s beginning just after the Gulf War. These talks were carried on without media coverage, and this book is the first sustained account of what took place. It is the inside story -- the authors themselves participated in some of these discussions and interviewed participants in others.After describing the background of early Arab-Israeli discussions, the authors present six case studies of Track-II talks in the 1990s: the 1992-1993 discussions in Norway that led to the Oslo accords; Palestinian-Israeli talks held in the early 1990s under the auspices of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Israeli-Syrian meetings of 1992-1994; the 1994-1995 Stockholm talks convened by the Swedish government; talks held in 1995-1996 between Israeli settlers and representatives of the Palestinian Authority; and arms control and regional security discussions throughout the decade. Despite their different perspectives, the book's two Israeli and two Palestinian authors are able to reach shared conclusions about the effectiveness and consequences of Track-II talks. Track-II Diplomacy not only makes a valuable contribution to the historical record of Arab-Israeli diplomacy but also offers insights into the role of informal and non-official discussions in resolving conflicts.