Explore the different national interests represented by each delegation
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and President George H.W. Bush greet each other before the start of the Madrid peace conference. Credit: Ya’acov Sa’ar, Israeli Government Press Office

On March 6, 1991, President George H.W. Bush tells Congress, “The time has come to put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.” For the next eight months, intensive shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State James A. Baker III culminates in the Madrid peace conference at the end of October. The conference, co-chaired by Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, is attended by Israeli, Egyptian, Syrian, and Lebanese delegations, as well as a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. For the first time, all of the parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict have gathered to hold direct negotiations.

Complete the following table for October 1991. You’ll find answers in the events and documents preceding the Madrid peace conference, the assurances the United States offered delegations before the conference, and the speeches made in Madrid. CIE Founding President Ken Stein’s introduction to Bush’s Madrid speech also offers guidance to what everyone wanted. How would the table change to represent today’s reality?


Interests and Goals

Willingness to compromise?



Palestinians (as part of the Jordanian delegation)




United States

Soviet Union (now Russia)

For more insights on national interests, click on the following links (in the interviews, searching for “Madrid” is a good way to start):