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.
About the Editors
Hussein Agha is Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College at Oxford University.
Shai Feldman is Head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.
Ahmad Khalidi is Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College at Oxford University.
Zeev Schiff is defense editor of Ha'aretz newspaper.
"Regardless of one's political outlook on the Middle East, Track-II diplomacy has emerged as an important instrument for all the parties to probe firsthand the true positions of the other sides. This book is essential reading for those seeking to understand the sources of much of the news—behind-the-scenes diplomacy between Israel and the Arab world."
—Ambassador Dore Gold, former Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN
"This compelling Palestinian-Israeli narrative is both superb history and a needed political primer on how Track-II diplomacy can improve the prospects for official peace negotiations. The authors draw reasonable but not overly grandiose conclusions on the potential contributions of Track-II efforts, which unfortunately are needed more than ever, and not just in the Middle East."
—Jeffrey Boutwell, Executive Director, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
"Track-II is about diplomacy without diplomats. The book is a serious addition to the literature on conflict resolution."
—Abdel Monem Said Aly, Director, Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Cairo
"This is an outstanding book which will be widely read by scholars, practitioners, and generalists, and will likely appeal to a wide and perhaps even popular audience. It contains wonderful insights into the behind-the-scenes contexts and discussions which have been pursued over the last several years in the Middle East. I salute the authors for their masterful accomplishment and congratulate them for the high quality of their examination."
—Steven L. Spiegel, Associate Director, Burkle Center for International Relations and Professor of Political Science, UCLA