Main milestones in peace process since Oslo
JERUSALEM (AFP) Nov 27, 2003
Here are the main dates of the Middle East peace process since the Oslo accords in 1993, as a team of Israelis and Palestinians prepare to launch a new alternative blueprint in Geneva on Monday.

-- 1993 --

- Sept 13: Israel and the PLO sign the Declaration of Principles after months of secret negotiations in Oslo, launching the peace process that Palestinians hope will lead to a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat exchange an historic handshake on the White House lawn.

-- 1994 --

- May 4: An accord signed in Cairo that sees Israel hand over control of Gaza and Jericho marks the launch of the era of Palestinian autonomy.

- July 1: Arafat makes his return on Palestinian soil after 27 years in exile. He forms a government in Gaza under the auspices of the Palestinian national authority.

-- 1995 --

- Sept 28: Signing in Washington of interim accord (Oslo II) on the extension of Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank, with phased Israeli withdrawals.

- Nov 4: Yitzhak Rabin assassinated in Tel Aviv by a Jewish extremist. He is replaced by his foreign minister Shimon Peres who loses power seven months later to right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu.

- Nov 13-Dec 21: Israel withdraws from more West Bank towns (Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Qalqilya and Tulkarem).

-- 1996 --

- Jan 20: Elections held for Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) or parliament. Yasser Arafat is elected Palestinian Authority president.

-- 1997 --

- Jan 15: Accord signed for an Israeli withdrawal from four-fifths of the southern West Bank town of Hebron, which is carried out the following day.

- Oct 6: Peace talks resume after a seven-month suspension.

-- 1998 --

- Oct 23: The Wye Plantation interim agreement outlines the practicalities of an Israeli withdrawal from 13 percent of the West Bank and the release of 750 Palestinian prisoners.

- Dec 14: The PLC annuls articles in the Palestinian charter which call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

-- 1999 --

- Sept 5: Israel's new prime minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat sign a renegotiated version of the Wye Plantation accords at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

- Sept 10: Israel withdraws from a further seven percent of the West Bank.

-- 2000 --

- Feb 3: Summit to restart negotiations fails and the PLO says it will declare an independent state by September.

- July 11-25: US president Bill Clinton brings Barak and Arafat to his Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. The talks, aimed at a final peace settlement, collapse, paving the way for the eruption of the second intifada two months later.

- Sept 28: The head of the right-wing Likud party, Ariel Sharon, ignores warnings and visits Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews, sparking the first clashes of the intifada.

-- 2001 --

- Jan 21-27: Marathon negotiations at Taba, Egypt, between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

- Feb 6: Ariel Sharon is elected Israeli prime minister.

- May 4: Release of Mitchell Commission report, which calls again for a halt to violence on both sides, a halt to Jewish settlement activity and then a resumption of final status negotiations.

-- 2002 --

- March 28: An Arab summit in Beirut adopts Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz's initiative offering Israel a full peace with the Arab world in return for the return of lands captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

- March 29: Responding to a wave of suicide bombings, Israel invades the West Bank in Operation Defensive Wall, its largest operation there since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It pulls some of its troops back in early May.

- June 16: Israel starts to build a wall sealing the West Bank off from Israel in an attempt to block militants from attacking the Jewish state. The move comes a few days before Israel again reoccupies areas in the West Bank.

- June 24: US President George W. Bush pledges his support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but calls on the Palestinians to choose new leaders, an implicit call for them to dump Arafat.

- Sept 17: Washington, Moscow, the European Union and the United Nations adopt a roadmap for peace, calling for the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005. The plan also calls for Palestinians to elect a prime minister and crack down on militant groups.

-- 2003 --

- April 30: The roadmap is finally unveiled. The Palestinians immediately accept its terms but the Israelis do not adopt it until May 25, with a list of 14 reservations.

- June 4: At a summit in the Jordanian resort of Aqaba, the roadmap is ratified by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmud Abbas in the presence of President Bush.

- Aug 19: A suicide bus bomb in Jersualem followed three days later by Israel's assassination of Hamas co-founder Ismail Abu Shanab bring a seven-week truce called by Palestinian militant groups to an end.

- Oct 12: With the "roadmap" at a standstill amid an upsurge in violence, around 50 Israeli opposition figures and Palestinian politicians, including former Israeli justice minister Yossi Beilin and ex-Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, finalise a symbolic peace accord, the Geneva Initiative, after two years of secret negotiations.