The Israeli-Syrian Peace Talks

1991–96 and Beyond
January 2000
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From the opening of the Middle East peace process in Madrid in 1991 to the marathon round of negotiations at Maryland’s Wye Plantation in 1996, the unsuccessful attempt to forge a peace agreement between Israel and Syria spanned five years and many venues.

Helena Cobban here provides a fascinating look at the painstaking negotiations between the two Middle East powers that thrice went to war in the past half-century, and the role that the United States played in trying to bring Israel and Syria closer together on crucial points.

Through interviews with U.S. officials and key players in the Israeli and Syrian delegations, Cobban paints a portrait of small but important breakthroughs—and often frustrating encounters—between the Israelis and the Syrians as they sought to negotiate not just a bilateral peace treaty, but also a broader regional peace. The study concludes with a careful analysis of what went wrong in the final phases of the negotiations and future prospects for resuming the talks.

The definitive account of the Israeli-Syrian negotiations in the Rabin-Peres era. Israelis and Syrians need to ponder this excellent book to understand why the chance of peace was missed.

Patrick Seale

Includes a wealth of detail, unavailable in any other single source, which gives readers a greater understanding of the negotiation efforts. . . . A must-read for anyone with interest in the Middle East or the dynamics of peace negotiations in general.

Raymond Hinnebusch, University of St. Andrews

Helena Cobban

Helena Cobban is an award-winning author and journalist, who served as a Beirut-based regional correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and The Sunday Times of London from 1974 to 1981. She was recently an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and a grantee of the United States Institute of Peace.

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