ACRS Oral History - Dr. Hanna Notte, Dr. Chen Zak Kane James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS)
5 December 2022
The second section turns to the format of the ACRS Working Group, shedding light on the role of its co-chairs and the Steering Group of the multilateral track. [...] Baker visited the region multiple times in preparation for the Madrid Conference to gain backing for an agreement on the text of invitations to the Conference, the list of attendees (and especially modalities for the way in which the Palestinians would be represented), the agenda, and a follow-up process. [...] Given the primacy that Washington accorded to the bilateral tracks, and in order to support them, the Bush administration aimed at expanding the circle of countries involved in the process beyond the immediate parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict. [...] The first was the primacy of the bilateral over the multilateral track, the second related to Israel’s concerns over finding itself isolated in the ACRS Working Group, and the third concerned the reluctance among those Arab states lacking peace agreements with Israel to engage in direct talks with the latter. [...] Some recalled the “very positive effects” of the Oslo Accords on the multilateral track in general, since they provided a “breath of fresh air at the time.” One Palestinian diplomat also recalled that the work done in the economic working group of the multilateral track, prior to the Oslo Accords, greatly benefited the Palestinians and Israelis in their subsequent bilateral talks, given the “accum.