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From Oslo to Oslo: a timeline

NEW YORK, Nov. 2 (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat vowed in Oslo this week to press forward with the most difficult and delicate talks the two sides have yet faced – the final-status negotiations.

The following is a time line of key events in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process:

Winter 1992-Summer 1993 — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators hold a series of secret meetings in Oslo to draw up a road map to peace.

Sept. 13, 1993 — Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat exchange a historic handshake on the White House lawn as the two sides sign the Declaration of Principles, a timetable for launching Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

May 4, 1994 — Israel and the PLO sign the Cairo Agreement for establishing self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho. Jericho comes under self-rule on May 13. Israel completes its withdrawal from Gaza on May18.

Sept. 28, 1995 — Rabin and Arafat sign the Interim Agreement, which sets the stage for an Israeli withdrawal from six West Bank towns.

Nov. 4, 1995 — Rabin is assassinated by Yigal Amir, a 25-year-old religious Jewish law student, after a Tel Aviv peace rally. Shimon Peres steps in as prime minister.

Jan. 20, 1996 — Palestinians in the territories vote for the first time to elect an 88-member legislative body. Arafat is elected leader of the Palestinian Council with 90 percent of the vote.

Feb. 25-March 4, 1996 — The peace process faces its most serious threat when Israel is left reeling by a series of Hamas suicide attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon that claim 59 lives and wound some 220 others.

April 24, 1996 — The Palestine National Council votes to amend portions of the charter that call for the destruction of Israel.

May 29, 1996 — Israelis narrowly elect Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

June 22-23, 1996 — Egypt hosts the first Arab League summit in six years to develop a united front against the new Netanyahu government’s approach to the peace process.

Sept. 4, 1996 — Netanyahu and Arafat hold their first meeting. Both sides agree to discussions on withdrawal from most of Hebron, the last West Bank town to be turned over to the Palestinians.

Jan. 14-15, 1997 — Netanyahu and Arafat reach the Hebron Agreement during a late-night summit held at the Erez Crossing. On Jan. 17, Israeli troops redeploy in the predawn hours from 80 percent of Hebron, days earlier than called for in the agreement.

March 18, 1997 — Israel breaks ground for a controversial Jewish housing project at Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem. Three days later, a suicide bomb in Central Tel Aviv kills three Israelis and wounds 47 others. The peace process is put on hold.

Sept. 7, 1997 — In the wake of a triple suicide bombing three days earlier at the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem, Netanyahu tells his Cabinet that Israel will not “follow the normal course of the Interim Agreement” because of the clear “violations on the part of the Palestinian Authority.”

Oct. 23, 1998 — After nine days of negotiations, Netanyahu and Arafat join President Clinton at the White House to sign the Wye accord. The agreement calls for an Israeli withdrawal from an additional 13 percent of the West Bank in exchange for Palestinian steps to improve security. After approving a first withdrawal, Netanyahu subsequently suspends the agreement, citing Palestinian non-compliance.

Dec. 14, 1998 — President Clinton becomes the first American leader to visit the Palestinian self-rule areas. During a meeting of the Palestinian National Council and other Palestinian leaders in the Gaza Strip, Clinton thanks the leaders for voting that they no longer seek Israel’s destruction.

Dec. 21, 1998 — The Knesset votes 81-30 to hold new elections.

May 17, 1999 — Israelis elect Labor Party leader Ehud Barak by a sweeping margin as the nation’s new prime minister.

Sept. 4, 1999 — Barak and Arafat sign a revised Wye accord in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.

Sept. 13, 1999 — An opening ceremony for the final-status talks is held — six years to the day after the historic Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn. Talks are supposed to result in a framework agreement by February and a final agreement by Sept. 2000.

Oct. 25, 1999 — Five years after it was first envisioned by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, Israel opens a safe-passage route for Palestinians traveling between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Nov.1-2, 1999 — Clinton, Barak and Arafat hold summit talks in Oslo, where world leaders meet to mark the fourth anniversary of Rabin’s assassination.

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