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Speed deal

Scoring the chances of a Y2K peace agreement

By Lisa Beyer/Jerusalem

July 26, 1999
Web posted at: 4:27 p.m. EDT (2027 GMT)

TIME magazine

Toasting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak last week, President Clinton reported that Barak had promised he would "not sleep a wink" until peace was reached in the Middle East. The hope: Israel at peace with all its neighbors before Clinton's term ends. Can Barak do it?

YES Under the right conditions, Israel will return the Golan Heights to Syria, and Syria will establish normal relations with Israel. Last week quite a bit of goodwill was on display. The Syrians instructed Palestinian groups in Damascus to stop plotting violence against Israel. And Israel said it had "no problem" picking up negotiations where they left off in 1996. If Israel can finalize a treaty with Damascus, one with Lebanon will probably follow. Another good sign: Yasser Arafat is eager to establish a Palestinian state--and Barak is not opposed.

NO Syrian talks may stumble over the security arrangements Israel demands, notably limited-troop zones around the Golan and access to intelligence from a monitoring station there. At the same time, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are famously immune to deadlines. The lives of the two peoples have overlapped too long to be untangled easily. What's more, a deal on one front may make an accord on another harder to sell to concession-weary Israelis. That should all be plenty to keep Barak wide awake.

--By Lisa Beyer/Jerusalem

MORE TIME STORIES:

Cover Date: August 1, 1999

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