WASHINGTON (Sep. 10)
The following is a timeline of the most significant developments related to the “road map” peace plan, the initiative backed by the “Quartet” of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
June 24, 2002 — In a much-anticipated speech, President Bush calls for a “new and different Palestinian leadership so a new Palestinian state can be born.” Bush says the United States will back Palestinian statehood after the Palestinians “have new leaders and institutions” and abandon violence against Israel.
Oct. 16, 2002 — Bush gives Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a draft of the road map peace plan, and Sharon agrees to release $400 million in frozen Palestinian tax revenue.
March 10, 2003 — Under heavy international pressure and a U.S. refusal to deal with him, Arafat appoints Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
April 30, 2003 — Abbas takes office as prime minister hours after an attacker from Arafat’s own Fatah movement kills three people in a bombing at a Tel Aviv pub.
May 1, 2003 — The Quartet members present the road map to both sides; Palestinians immediately accept it but the Israelis express reservations.
May 17, 2003 — Abbas meets Sharon in the first top-level meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership since the region descended into violence after the collapse of peace talks at the Camp David summit in the summer of 2000. Hours after the meeting, a Palestinian suicide bomber kills seven people on a Jerusalem bus.
May 25, 2003 — Israel’s government conditionally accepts the principles of the road map.
May 27, 2003 — For the first time, Sharon uses the word “occupation” to describe the presence of Israeli forces in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
June 4, 2003 — Abbas, Sharon and Bush formally inaugurate the road map peace plan at a summit in Aqaba, Jordan. Palestinian terrorist attacks follow. Israel begins to dismantle several settlement outposts.
June 29, 2003 — Under heavy military pressure from Israel in response to a series of terrorist attacks, Hamas and Islamic Jihad unilaterally declare a three-month “cease-fire” in attacks on Israelis; Fatah declares a six-month truce. In response, Israeli troops withdraw from part of the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem, transferring security control to the Palestinian Authority. Israel urges Abbas to dismantle the terrorist groups but Abbas balks, fearing decisive action could spark a Palestinian civil war.
July 8, 2003 — Abbas resigns as deputy head of the Fatah Central Committee, the movement’s top executive body, reflecting a split within group over negotiations with Israel. The committee refuses to accept Abbas’ resignation. Abbas threatens to resign as prime minister unless his party backs his strategy in talks with Israelis.
Aug. 12, 2003 — A pair of suicide bombings by Hamas and the Fatah movement’s Al-Aksa Brigade kill two Israelis. The bombings do not stop Israel from releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as a good-will gesture designed to boost the credibility of the Palestinian Authority.
Aug. 19, 2003 — Hamas and Islamic Jihad launch a suicide attack on a Jerusalem bus, killing 22. Israel says the Palestinian Authority must take substantial steps to crack down on terrorists.
Aug. 21, 2003 — Palestinian terrorist groups call off their self-imposed “cease-fire” after Israel kills Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab in a strike in Gaza. The groups vow revenge on Israel.
Sept. 4, 2003 — Abbas asks Parliament to support him or strip him of his post, saying infighting is keeping him from making progress on the U.S.-backed peace plan.
Sept. 6, 2003 — Abbas resigns as P.A. prime minister after losing a power struggle with Arafat; he blames Israel the United States for his failures. In a failed military strike in Gaza, Israel narrowly misses killing Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin.
Sept. 7, 2003 — Ahmed Karia is named as the new P.A. prime minister.
Sept. 9, 2003 — A pair of suicide attacks in Israel kill 15, raising further doubts about the viability of implementing the road map plan.