The calling of the Middle East peace conference for Wednesday in Madrid has already changed facts. That does not, however, insure that it will succeed.
In Israel, public opinion polls rallied in favor of Israel's attendance. This suggests that opinion could move in still more conciliatory directions if ever given any reason to believe Arabs were moving similarly. As a result, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's most intransigent politician, claimed for himself the delegation leadership, despite the conference call for foreign ministers. Israel's more flexible foreign minister, David Levy, was humiliated and left to sulk. He, in turn, was thinking serously of challenging Mr. Shamir for leadership of the Likud Party.
In the Arab world, parties driven asunder by hatreds and war quickly came together. Notable was the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and the PLO. Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, the PLO, with concurrence of Saudi Arabia and Morocco, agreed to rule out separate deals with Israel. Syria was unable, however, to obtain a pre-conference summit or a pledge to boycott regional issues until after Israel had vacated land. Syria, ostracized for supporting Iran against Iraq in the 1980s, and the PLO, condemned for supporting Iraq's seizure of Kuwait, are back in Arab good standing.