In 1988, when I first started to research the subject of this book for my doctoral dissertation, the Soviet-PLO relationship appeared to be in an unusually healthy condition. There was a genuine optimism that the new-found political dynamism of the Soviet Union and the PLO, which was reflected in their bilateral relations, might herald a break-through in the Arab-Israeli peace process. Both the Soviet Union and the PLO were enjoying a political renaissance in the region. While Mikhail Gorbachev was breathing new life into Soviet foreign policy through the promotion of his ‘new thinking’, the foreign policy equivalent to glasnost and perestroika, the PLO was engaged in a political reform process which culminated in the historic decision in 1988 to recognize Israel. During 1989 the dynamic was maintained as the Soviet foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, embarked on an extensive tour of the Middle East, promoting the virtues of ‘new thinking’ for the resolution of the region’s conflicts and regularly praising the PLO’s decision to recognize Israel as an example of such radical new strategic thinking. During this period, the Soviet and PLO leadership clearly believed that it was only a question of time before the United States and Israel would have to accept the logic of the long-standing Soviet demand for a comprehensive peace settlement which would include the participation of the PLO.
KeywordsMiddle East Arab World Peace Process Bilateral Relation Arab State
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