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Home >> World
UPDATED: 13:06, November 11, 2004
Backgrounder: The Palestinian-Israeli peace process
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Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was officially announced dead on Thursday. The following is a retrospect of the Palestinian-Israel peace process.

The first meeting to resolve the conflict between Arab countries and Israel since the declaration of the Jewish state in 1948 took place in Madrid, Spain, in October 1991. Parties at the conference agreed to the principle of "land for peace," setting the framework for bilateral and multilateral Middle East peace talks.

Secret direct talks between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) followed two years later after Israel lifted a ban on contact with the PLO in January 1993.

Under the auspices of the Norwegian government, Palestinian and Israeli officials held 14 rounds of secret talks in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, finally reaching a framework agreement designed to bring peace to the Middle East.

In September 1993, Israel's then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat signed the Declaration of Principles on Palestinian autonomy, allowing the Gaza Strip and Jericho in the West Bank to become the first Palestinian autonomous territories and setting a May 4, 1999 deadline for the conclusion of talks on the issue.

On May 4, 1994 in Cairo, Egypt, Arafat and Rabin signed an accord on the implementation of Palestinian autonomy. Israel subsequently pulled its troops out of the Gaza Strip and Jericho and the Palestinians took over the two territories in mid-May, ending a 27-year Israeli military occupation.

Under the September 1995 Taba agreement between Palestinians and Israelis, Israel withdrew its troops from seven cities in the West Bank and Palestinian self-rule was extended to more than 90 percent of the West Bank territory.

Negotiations on Palestinian final status started in May 1996 but stalled when Benjamin Netanyahu, who advocated "security for peace" instead of the "land for peace" principle, was elected Israeli prime minister.

Although Palestinians and Israelis signed the Hebron accord and the 1998 Wye River agreement on interim land-for-peace deal on West Bank, these accords failed to be implemented while Netanyahu was in office.

After Ehud Barak was elected Israeli prime minister in May 1999, the two sides signed the Sharm El Sheikh Memorandum on the implementation of the Wye River agreement.

Both sides agreed to begin the final status negotiations on Sept. 13, 1999 and reach a final agreement on the status of Jerusalem before Sept. 13, 2000. But little was achieved during a summit of Palestinian, Israeli and US leaders at Camp David, the US presidential retreat in Maryland, in July 2000.

On Sept. 28, 2000, the head of Israel's Likud party, Ariel Sharon, visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a Muslim holy site, sparking violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis. Relations between the two sides deteriorated further when Sharon took over as Israeli prime minister 2003.

To revive the peace process, the international community mediated between the two sides, proposing a host of peace plans including the Mitchell report, the Tenet ceasefire deal and an Arab peace initiative. All were rejected by the Sharon government.

The United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia unveiled their Middle East "roadmap" peace plan on April 30,2003 for a statehood solution, the implementation of which was later adversely affected by spiraling violence between the Palestinians and Israelis.


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