Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Whole Sorry Story

Timeline of Israeli-Arab Peace Initiatives since 1977
Jan. 22, 2008: Israel Continues to Provide Humanitarian Aid and Electricity to Palestinians in Gaza: Despite the increased number of ongoing rocket and mortar fire from Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza; over 4,000 missiles and rockets were fired since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, the country continues to seek peace with the Palestinians. Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni said on Jan. 24, 2008 “The goal is to end the conflict between our two nations, our two peoples, by the creation or giving the answer to the national aspirations of the Palestinians by creating a Palestinian state. Just as Israel is homeland for the Jewish people, the Palestinian state is and should be by its own creation a homeland for the Palestinians.” [1]

Jan. 9-11, 2008: President George W. Bush Visit to Israel: President Bush embarked on a tour of a number of Middle East countries, starting with Israel. The purpose of the visit was to advance peace negotiations initiated at the Annapolis conference in Nov. 2007. Bush urged the Palestinian side to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and also called on Israel to halt settlement construction and remove unauthorized settler outposts. [2]

Nov. 27, 2007: Annapolis Summit: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sign a joint statement in Annapolis, Md. to lay the groundwork for peace talks. The joint document delineates broad principles of agreements and commitments to peace and stipulates that both sides will establish steering committees, led by the heads of their delegations to the Annapolis talks, that will meet continuously starting Dec. 12, 2007. Both sides agree to meet on a bi-weekly basis and express hope to reach a final peace agreement by the end of 2008. [3]

June 25, 2007: Sharm el-Sheikh Summit II: Olmert meets in Sharm el-Sheikh with Abbas, Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II. The leaders gather to discuss containment of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and to strengthen Abbas' Fatah party in the West Bank. As a goodwill gesture, Olmert announces the Israeli government's intention to release 250 Fatah prisoners who have 'no blood on their hands' and who pledge to renounce violence. [4]

April 1, 2007: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's acceptance of Arab Peace Initiative: In response to the March 28, 2007 Arab League Summit at Riyadh, Olmert welcomes the Arab Initiative, revised since its conception in 2002, and invites the Arab heads of state to a meeting in Israel to further discuss the initiative and collaborate on improving it. [5]

Aug. 15-Aug. 23, 2005: Gaza and West Bank Disengagement: In an effort to relieve the security threats against Israelis living in Gaza and to try to put the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track, Israel unilaterally pulls all of its citizens out of the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank. This dramatic move costs Israel approximately $2 billion, and includes the evacuation of all of the roughly 9,000 Israelis living in the affected areas in addition to exhuming and transferring all graves in Gaza to Israeli territory. On Sept. 12, 2005, the last Israel Defense Forces soldier departs the Gaza Strip, marking a historic step towards peace by Israel. [6]

Feb. 8, 2005: Sharm el-Sheikh Summit I: Sharon meets with PA President Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan to announce the implementation of Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. Abbas and Sharon agree upon a ceasefire. Sharon expresses his hope that the disengagement will foster a step forward in the Roadmap for Peace. [7]

Dec. 18, 2003: Fourth Herzliya Conference: At this conference, Prime Minister Sharon presents a plan for Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in exchange for peace. The Israeli Cabinet approves the plan on June 6, 2004 and the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) approves it on Oct. 25, 2004. The disengagement plan, a major sacrifice for peace, calls for evacuating nearly 9,000 Israeli residents living in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel also proposes the disengagement plan in hopes of stimulating progress in the peace process on the Palestinian side. [8]

June 4, 2003: Peace Summit at Aqaba: Sharon and Abbas meet in Jordan to reaffirm their commitment to the Roadmap. Sharon promises withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian areas, and Abbas pledges an end to the Intifada and the Palestinian culture of hate against Israel. The prospects of the summit are shattered Aug. 19, 2003, after Palestinian terrorists carry out a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. As a result, on Sept. 1, 2003 the Israeli Cabinet decides to wage war against Hamas and other terrorist groups, and halts the diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority until it proves it is taking concrete measures to stop terrorism. [9]

Apr. 30, 2003: Roadmap for Peace: Based upon President Bush's speech of June 24, 2002 and principles of the Oslo Accords, this plan is supervised by the Quartet: the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations. It calls for serious alterations in the Palestinian government and results in the appointment of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. The Roadmap, which charts progress toward a final-status agreement through a series of benchmarks relating to security and political progress, is still the official blueprint towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians, with the Quartet meeting intermittently to track the progress of the plan. [10]

June 24, 2002: Bush's Vision for the Middle East: In a Rose Garden Speech, President George W. Bush outlines a new plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, with the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state established in the near future. This policy calls for new Palestinian leadership (specifically acknowledging the corruption and unwillingness to stop terrorism that characterized Arafat's regime) and a reformulated democratic government for the Palestinians. The president also calls upon the Palestinians, as well as other Arab states supporting or tolerating terrorism, to cease those activities. The plan focuses mainly on the impediments to the peace process posed by the Palestinians since the Israelis had repeatedly offered and acted upon various concessions for peace, and on greater democratization throughout the Arab world. [11]

March 28, 2002: The Arab Peace Initiative: Leaders of Arab nations come together at the Beirut Summit, where Saudi Arabia proposes a plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This plan is known as the Saudi Initiative, or the Arab Peace Initiative. The plan calls for Israel to withdraw completely to pre-1967 borders; supports the 'right of return' for all Palestinian refugees and their descendents; and the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Arab states in attendance pledge not to exercise military action to end the hostilities, and state that if Israel agrees to the aforementioned stipulations without modification, the Arab countries will in return consider the Arab-Israeli conflict to be over and normalize relations with Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres responds to the initiative on behalf of Israel, stating that Israel views the plan as encouraging, but that the agreement must be discussed directly with the Palestinians and that no accord can come to fruition unless terror activities are ceased, a condition not mentioned in the Arab Initiative. [12]

Jan. 22-27, 2001: Taba Conference: In the midst of the Second Intifada, and as a follow-up to the Camp David Summit, the Israelis and Palestinians meet for a final attempt to come to an agreement on a Palestinian state. Israel offers 94 percent of the West Bank in addition to Israeli land, culminating in an offer of 97 percent of the total land area requested by the Palestinians. The 'right of return' is also considered. However, the conference ends again in a standstill, and an Israeli-Palestinian Joint Statement is issued asserting that the two parties have never before been so close to an agreement and expressing hope for the future. [13]

July 11-25, 2000: Camp David Summit: To keep to the schedule set by the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, Arafat and Barak meet with President Clinton at Camp David. In an effort to achieve peace once and for all, Barak offers a series of concessions including Israeli withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip and 95 percent of the West Bank; the subsequent creation of an independent Palestinian state in the aforementioned areas; the dismantlement of all Israeli settlements in those areas given to the Palestinians; land compensation outside of the West Bank for settlements to remain under Israeli sovereignty; and Palestinian rule over East Jerusalem and most of the Old City (excluding the Jewish Quarter) and 'religious sovereignty' on the Temple Mount. In exchange, the agreement called for Arafat to declare an end to the conflict and a prohibition of future claims on Israeli land. Arafat rejects the proposal and makes no counter-offer. The summit ends in failure, but a Tri-Lateral Statement is issued delineating the principles of future talks. [14]

Sept. 4, 1999: Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum: This memorandum addresses the delay in implementation of the Oslo Accords created by Palestinian non-compliance with security obligations and the subsequent Israeli refusal to redeploy troops in the face of a growing terror threat from Area A (which is under full Palestinian administrative and security control). At this time, Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak meet to reaffirm their commitment to the Oslo Peace Process and set a new deadline, Sept. 13, 2000, for the completion of peace talks. [15]

Oct. 23, 1998: Wye River Memorandum: U.S. President Bill Clinton hosts Netanyahu and Arafat to negotiate the details of implementation of Oslo II of 1995. The memorandum emphasizes the need for the Palestinian side to uphold its security obligations. In return, for each phase the Palestinians successfully complete, they are to receive a specified percentage of land (through measures such as Israeli troop deployments). [16]

Jan. 17, 1997: Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron: The redeployment of Israeli soldiers from Hebron, the last remaining Palestinian city under Israeli control, is orchestrated in the Hebron Agreement. The protocol is signed by Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This marks the first time Israel's Likud party government has supported territorial withdrawal in the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria), until then widely considered a Labor party policy. [17]

Sept. 28, 1995: Oslo II: The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, known as "Oslo II" or "Taba," broadens and supersedes the 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement. This agreement deals with many aspects of the transition to Palestinian autonomy, including how Israel will leave Palestinian-populated areas in the West Bank and Gaza; the provision for Palestinians to elect the newly established Palestinian Council; and the division of the area into three sections based on which group retains responsibility for security divided into Areas A, B and C. Israel also releases Palestinian prisoners as a sign of goodwill. [18]

Oct. 26, 1994: Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty: After a series of meetings, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul-Salam Majali sign the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty. The basic provisions of the treaty delineate the international border; prohibit hostilities between the two nations; agree upon water usage from shared bodies of water; allow for freedom of movement between the two countries as well as access to religious sites within Jerusalem; and formally normalize all relations between Israel and Jordan. Diplomatic relations begin Nov. 27, 1994, and additional bilateral agreements are signed in the coming years in areas such as environment, trade and tourism. [19]

July 25, 1994: The Washington Declaration: King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin meet publicly in Washington, D.C. for the first time and take important steps toward implementing a peace treaty. The official state of war between the two countries is ended; each nation agrees to follow U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 to seek a total and lasting peace; and Israel acknowledges Jordan's special role in the oversight of Muslim holy places within Jerusalem. The two leaders also focus on future economic cooperation between Israel and Jordan. [20]

May 4, 1994: Gaza-Jericho Agreement: In what is also known as the Cairo Agreement, Israel and the Palestinians outline Israel's initial withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, as well as the creation of the Palestinian Authority. Although Israel is removing all of its forces from these areas (and later from Palestinian cities in the West Bank), Yasser Arafat's PA fails to meet the security conditions requiring it to crack down on terror groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. [21]

Sept. 14, 1993: Israel-Jordan Common Agenda: After almost two years of Madrid Conference-inspired bilateral talks between Israel and Jordan, the two nations sign the Common Agenda which outlines the impending peace treaty between the two countries. [22]

Sept. 13, 1993: The Oslo Accords: After secret negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians in Oslo following the Madrid Peace Conference, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat shake hands and sign the "Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements," better known as the Oslo Accords. The agreement calls for the transfer of power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, beginning with an interim phase, leading to self-government and elections among the Palestinians, and culminating with a final-status agreement in which a permanent Palestinian state will sign an end-of-conflict agreement with Israel. The negotiations phase of the Accords include Rabin and Arafat exchanging letters in which Arafat pledges that the PLO recognizes Israel and commits itself to peace, while Rabin states that Israel recognizes the PLO as a legitimate party in the negotiations for peace. The "land for peace" strategy is heavily employed in these accords. The Oslo Accords are carried out through phased meetings. [23]

Oct. 30-Nov.1, 1991: Madrid Peace Conference: The United States and USSR co-host a conference in Spain to set the framework to negotiate peace between Israel and Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians, the first time direct and open peace talks are held between Israel and these four partners since 1949. The three-day conference sets in motion bilateral talks between Israel and each of its neighbors, as well as multilateral talks, about issues such as trade, resource development and conflict-prevention. Ultimately, however, no agreements develop from the Madrid process. [24]

May 14, 1989: Israel's Peace Initiative: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin announce a plan for peace, based on the Camp David Accords, consisting of four basic parts: strengthening peace with Egypt as a regional cornerstone; promoting full peaceful relations with the Arab states; improving refugee conditions through international efforts; and establishing interim self-rule for Palestinians, including Palestinian elections, during a five-year period leading to a "permanent solution." [25]



[1] IDF Spokesman’s Unit, Jan. 2 and Jan. 20, 2008; “Supply of electricity to Gaza continues,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan. 21, 2008,; “Remarks by FM Livni at the Davos World Economic Forum,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan. 24, 2008,

[2] Heller, Jeffrey and Spetalnick, Matt, "Bush urges end to Israeli occupation," Reuters, Jan. 10, 2008,

[3] "Bush: Israelis, Palestinians agree on framework for peace talks," CNN, Nov. 27, 2007,;
Ravid, Barak, Benn, Aluf and Uni Assaf, "Israel, PA agree to strive for accord by end of 2008," Haaretz, Nov. 27, 2007,

[4] "Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Background, Conflicts, and U.S. Policy," CRS Report for Congress, April 10, 2007,
Knickmeyer, Ellen, Washington Post, June 26, 2007,

[5] "Paying the Price for Peace," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 28, 2005,

[6] "Israeli-Palestine Negotiations," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 7, 2003,
"Israel's Disengagement Plan: Renewing the Peace Process," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 20, 2005,

[7] "Israel's Disengagement Plan: Renewing the Peace Process," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 20, 2005,

[8] "Israel's Disengagement Plan: Renewing the Peace Process," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 20, 2005,

[9] "Israeli-Palestine Negotiations," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 7, 2003,

[10] "What was the 2003 'Road Map' for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.

[11] "What was the Middle East plan put forth by Pres. Bush in June 2002?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.

[12] "Beirut Declaration on Saudi Peace Initiative - 28-Mar-2002," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 28, 2002,; "Response of FM Peres to the decisions of the Arab Summit in Beirut - 28-Mar-2002," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 28, 2002,

[13] "What happened at the Taba Conference in January 2001?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.

[14] "What took place at Camp David in 2000?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.

[15] "What was the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum in 1999?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.

[16] "The Wye River Memorandum," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oct. 23, 1998,

[17] "What was the Hebron Protocol and Agreement in 1997?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.

[18] "What was the 'Oslo II' Interim Agreement in 1995?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.

[19] "Main Points of Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oct. 26, 1994,

[20] "The Israel-Jordan Negotiations," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 24, 2003,

[21] "What was the Gaza and Jericho Agreement of 1994?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.

[22] "The Israel-Jordan Negotiations," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 24, 2003,

[23] "What were the details of the Oslo Accords?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007

[24] "The Madrid Framework," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan. 28, 1999,

[25] "What was Israel's May 1989 peace initiative?" Palestine Facts,, accessed July 17, 2007.


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