Timeline: Palestine-Israel conflict

A chronology of key events in the Middle East conflict from 1999 onwards, the time span of The Palestine Papers.

May: Ehud Barak of the Labour Party is elected prime minister under the One Israel banner.

July: The Camp David summit between Barak, and Yasser Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, aimed at reaching a “final status” agreement, fails after Arafat refuses to accept a proposal drafted by the US and Israeli negotiators.

September: Second initifada begins after Ariel Sharon, the Israeli opposition leader, visits the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

February 6: Sharon is elected the leader of the Likud party and refuses to continue negotiations with Arafat.

June 1: A Hamas suicide bomber attacks a nightclub, killing 21 Israelis, mainly teenagers, and injuring more than 100.

December: Sharon sends troops into Ramallah, shelling and surrounding the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank headquarters; Arafat is unable to leave.

March: Israeli army launches Operation Defensive Shield, the country’s biggest military operation in the West Bank since the Six Day war in 1967. In the same year, Israel begins construction of separation barrier and annexes large areas of Palestinian land.

March 22: Sheikh Yassin, the founder and leader of the Hamas movement, is assassinated by an Israeli helicopter gunship.

April 17: Abd al-Aziz al-Rantissi, the co-founder of Hamas and successor to Yassin, is killed by the Israeli army.

July 9: International Court of Justice rules that the Israeli separation barrier violates international law and must be removed.

November 11: Arafat dies.

January 9: Mahmoud Abbas is elected president of the Palestinian Authority.

January 10: Sharon creates government of unity with Labour and United Torah Judaism parties.

August: Israel disengages from Gaza and four West Bank settlements.

November: Sharon leaves Likud to form the Kadima party.

January: Sharon suffers a major stroke that leaves him in a coma.

January 25: Hamas wins a majority of seats in the Palestinian legislative elections. The US, Israel and several European countries cut off aid to the Palestinians as the Islamist movement rejects Israel’s right to exist.

March 2006: Kadima, now led by Ehud Olmert, wins the parliamentary elections and installs Olmert as Sharon’s successor.

June 25: Armed Palestinians carry out a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip and capture Corporal Gilad Shalit, besides killing two Israeli soldiers and wounding four others.

September: Violence erupts between rival Palestinian groups, Fatah and Hamas, in the Gaza Strip. Abbas attempts to prevent civil war. Abbas’s Fatah movement supports a Palestinian state alongside Israel, while Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist.

October: A number of mediation conferences are held. Egypt and Qatar send their foreign ministers to meet with both sides. Other Palestinian groups like the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine mediate between the two sides to stop the clashes.

November 13: Following talks between Hamas and Fatah, both sides agree to form a unity government.

December 16: Abbas calls for new elections as a solution to the ongoing crisis.

January 30: Fatah and Hamas reach a ceasefire agreement mediated by Egypt after a series of clashes that led to the death of 32 Palestinians. Both sides welcome a Saudi initiative to meet in Mecca.

February 8: Hamas and Fatah agree on a deal in Mecca to end factional warfare and to form a coalition, hoping this would lead Western powers to lift crippling sanctions imposed on the Hamas-led government.

February 9: The Quartet welcomes the role of Saudi Arabia in reaching the agreement to form a Palestinian National Unity government but later reaffirms that it must obey international demands to recognise Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous peace agreements.

February 15: Ismail Haniya and his cabinet resign. Haniya is re-appointed by Abbas and begins the process of forming a new Palestinian unity government.

March 15: Palestinians reach agreement on the formation of the government.

March 17: The new Palestinian unity government holds its first cabinet meeting in Gaza City, with ministers in the West Bank participating from Ramallah via video link.

March: Israel refuses to talk to the coalition, saying it fails to meet international demands – renouncing violence, recognising Israel and honouring past peace deals.

April: Israel plans Gaza invasion, a day after Olmert calls for a regional peace conference with Arab states. The US gives Abbas $60m to boost his presidential guard and for other security expenses.

May: Israel presses ahead with air raids on Gaza. The strikes came after Olmert said that Israel would continue its crackdown on Hamas following the firing of rockets from the enclave.

June: Battle of Gaza begins, resulting in Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah. Abbas issues new government, and announces Salam Fayyad, an economist, as the emergency government head. Abbas swears in new emergency government, bypassing Hamas.

November: George Bush, the US president, hosts peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis at Annapolis, Maryland, while Hamas still holds control over Gaza.

January: Israel steps up military actions on Gaza and Hamas, killing seven Palestinians. Olmert vows to respond to continuing rocket attacks from Gaza. Israel continues incursions into Gaza, leaving Palestinians in a humanitarian crisis without fuel, power, food and water.

January 23: Palestinians blow up part of the border at Rafah, going into Egypt and thousands of Gazans cross the border to buy food and other supplies.

February: Israel launches military campaign, codenamed Operation Hot Winter, in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of 112 Palestinians and three Israelis.

May: Tony Blair, former British prime minister, announces new peace initiative based on the ideas of the Peace Valley plan.

December: Israel launches Operation Cast Lead, a full scale invasion of the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups. Some 1400 Palestinians are killed, many of them civilians. After 22 days of fighting, Israel and Hamas each declare separate unilateral ceasefires.

March: Binyamin Netanyahu assumes office as Israeli prime minister following parliamentary elections.

April 3: United Nations establishes a fact-finding mission on the Gaza war, headed by Richard Goldstone, an international jurist from South Africa.

June 4: Barack Obama, the US president, calls for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims” in a historic speech in Cairo.

September 15: Goldstone releases his report, accusing both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the Gaza war.

November 3: The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passes a resolution denouncing the Goldstone report as “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.”

November: Netanyahu announces a 10-month so-called freeze on construction in illegal West Bank settlements. The freeze does not apply to East Jerusalem.

January: Israel resumes air strikes against smuggling-tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border.

May 31: Israel violently intercepts a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine activists on board the Mavi Marmara, the lead vessel .

September 22: United Nations Human Rights Council terms the Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla “disproportionate” and condemns its “unacceptable level of brutality.”

September: Another round of direct negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership begins. The talks collapse in the same month after Israel refuses to extend the freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.

January 23: Al Jazeera releases The Palestine Papers, revealing a trove of documents, e-mails and minutes of meetings, shedding light on 10 years of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

(www.aljazeera.com / 01.04.2011)

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