Swimming the Oslo Channel

How free-lance peacemakers made history by breaking new ground in the Middle East peace negotiations

In December 1992 a secret meeting took place at a hotel in central London. Six months in the arranging, it lasted only a few hours, and at the time neither of the participants thought much of what had been accomplished. Yair Hirschfeld, a Middle East history professor, was breaking Israeli law by talking to Ahmed Kriah, head of the P.L.O.'s economics department. But other Israeli free-lance peacemakers had worked their Palestinian connections before in private attempts to jump-start the peace process. None had succeeded. In the hotel Kriah said he was interested in broad bilateral talks with Israeli officials. So was...

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