MADRID AND OSLO:
YEARS OF HOPE
As the century drew to a close, the four-year period from June 1992 to May 1996, shrouded as it was by both nostalgia and controversy, loomed ever more distinctly as a notably significant chapter in the evolution of Arab-Israeli relations. A hospitable regional and international environment, the newly formed Madrid framework, American leadership and support, and, above all, the determination of two Israeli prime ministers to move toward peace and several Arab partners' positive response to this, produced the most ambitious and sustained effort yet to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict.1 These ambitions endowed the period with significance, and a number of important breakthroughs changed the contours of Arab-Israeli relations; these produced negative reactions, though, and underlined the limits to achieving a notion of peace that would be acceptable to both Arabs and Israelis.
The term “peace process” is often used rather loosely, but in those years it had a very concrete meaning: four