Syria and Israel have issued a stream of negative statements about each other’s negotiating stance on the eve of US Secretary of State Warren Christopher’s latest Middle East peace tour, due to start on 6 December. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told a group of Israeli settlers on the Golan Heights on 29 November that talks with Syria were deadlocked and it was possible that these negotiations will not produce any results. Syria countered with recriminations against Israel for failing to make a clear commitment to withdraw from the Golan.

Israeli officials have become increasingly preoccupied with security issues affecting the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. The latest violent incidents included the fatal shooting of an Israeli rabbi near Hebron on 27 November and an axe attack on an Israeli woman soldier in the Israeli town of Afula on 30 November.