"I stand before you with one overriding commitment," Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres told a joint session of Congress today, "to yield to no threat, to stop at no obstacle in negotiating the hurdles ahead, in seeking security for our people, peace for our land, tranquility for our region." The next step in the Middle East peace process: Syria, where negotiations over the control of the Golan Heights remain deadlocked. After a six month absence while working on the Bosnia peace plan, Secretary of State Warren Christopher will return his attention to the Middle East, departing Thursday for Damascus, Jerusalem, Egypt and the West Bank. TIME's Johanna McGeary says Peres thinks Christopher may be able to get the talks moving again: "Peres wants to use the U.S. as a key to unlock the negotiations. Unlike Rabin, whose style was to negotiate by incremental steps, Peres wants to secure a complete agreement. He's saying 'make me an offer.'" The reason, McGeary says, is political: "Peres only has a year before the election. His people think that he can gain a lot by making a deal with Syria before then. Even though the conventional wisdom is that Israelis will not support returning the Golan Heights, Peres and his people are gambling that Israelis will support an agreement once they see it on paper."