From an article by Atherton Jr. in the autumn 1985 edition of The Middle East Journal:
The unanswered question is whether the Soviet system, even if it recognizes (the) new realities in the Middle East, has the capability to change the perceptions and policies of the past and draw the conclusion that is cannot forever have it both ways; that it must either contribute to a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict or share the risks of greater instability and increased radicalization in the area. If it does, there are steps it can take -- for example, it can restore diplomatic relations with Israel and expend some of its diplomatic capital with Syria and the Palestinians -- which would be important signals that its desire to reenter the peace process is not just a replay of the past.
Even if Moscow does move in new directions, this will not be the millenium. The asymmetries and rivalries between Soviet and American interests in the Middle East will not suddenly go away. A more pragmatic, imaginative and activist Soviet Middle East could confront the United States with new challenges in a diplomatic arena it has pretty much had to itself for a decade (with, it should be noted, declining benefits of late). But it could also provide some new openings for American diplomacy that may otherwise remain blocked unless and until Jordan, the Palestinians and ultimately the Syrians drop their insistence on moving negotiations to an international forum that includes a Soviet role. The next step should be a careful and searching probing of the new Soviet leadership, to ascertain whether there is any inclination in Moscow to modify its traditional approach to the Middle East.