The Arab-Israeli conflict has been a persistent source of tension for decades, for example, but it has taken on new dimensions in the aftermath of the failed Oslo process and the recent explosion of violence that shows no signs of abating. These traditional issues have been joined by several more recent problems that defy easy solutions. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) continue to spread throughout the region, despite international non-proliferation efforts. Terrorists recruited and trained in the Middle East are now carrying out attacks far beyond their own borders, creating strong global interests in countering the sources of this phenomenon (Litvak, 1993).
The declaration of principles between Israel and the PLO was designed to undertake direct discussions leading to the establishment of Palestinian self-rule, beginning with Gaza and Jericho. These two agreements were assumed to be the result both of the domestic pressure faced by the new Israeli government caused by their perceived failure to move the process along as initially promised and of Arafat's perception that his lack of concrete gains was enhancing the strength of his opponents within the Palestinian movement (Meir, 1993).
Thereafter, trusted emissaries of these two principals met in secret negotiations facilitated by the late Johan Holst, then Norway's foreign minister. The Washington ceremony which brought to the world's attention the initial results of this secret effort began an entirely new "third track" to the Arab- Israeli diplomatic process-direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO with a specified timetable leading towards an interim stage of Palestinian autonomy in Gaza and an area around Jericho but with a clear acknowledgement that further movement would then occur incrementally as negotiated. This was followed by the Cairo agreement of 13 February 1994 brokered by the strenuous efforts of Egyptian President Mubarak (Sayigh, 1999).
These two diplomatic and political shocks, therefore, while clearly not bringing this subregion of the Middle East to a level of political recognition, economic and cultural interchange, or military stability that had existed in Europe in the early days of the CSCE, nevertheless had moved the process giant steps forward. Political risks associated with these two major moves obviously had been calculated as necessary given the potential outcome and, conversely, the costs of not trying. That is not to suggest that each party went into the process willingly. Future scholars likely will explore the issue of "coercive diplomacy" in this period. Rather, consciously and with purpose or not, as each of the parties entered into one or both of these processes, they endured varying degrees of risk. Each regime or leadership was exposed: the centrality which "the evilness of the Zionist entity" plays in the domestic as well as regional politics of most Arab and Islamic regimes; the profound and pervasive issue of long-term acceptance of Israel in the region, and the more immediate security concerns of facing 22 hostile Arab states and Iran,