WASHINGTON, June 4 (JTA) — Since June 24 of last year, when he made a landmark speech, President Bush has become increasingly involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Those efforts peaked Wednesday, when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. The following is a timeline of U.S. engagement in the last year. • June 24, 2002 — Bush calls on the Palestinians to elect new leaders, eradicate terrorism and create institutional reforms, with the vision of a Palestinian state by 2005. In the speech, Bush also calls for Israel to withdraw to its September 2000 borders and to end its settlement activity as progress is made toward security. • Sept. 30, 2002 — Bush chooses to not honor congressional provisions that recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He argues that it would interfere with the president’s authority to formulate foreign policy. • October 2002 — Drafts of the “road map” for Israeli-Palestinian peace, crafted by the Quartet — the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — are leaked to the media. The plan calls for a three-staged approach to peace, leading to an interim Palestinian state after elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the creation of a permanent state at the end of the road. Israelis argue that progress on the road map is based on a timeline, rather than measuring compliance with the plan. • Oct. 16, 2002 — Bush and Sharon meet in Washington. Sharon agrees to release $400 million in Palestinian tax revenue that had been frozen, and Bush gives Sharon a draft version of the road map. The two leaders also work to coordinate the right to retaliate if attacked by Iraq. • October 2002 — William Burns, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, travels to the Middle East. Israeli leaders complain that the road map does not make specific demands on the Palestinians to prevent terror before Israel withdraws to the lines that existed before the Palestinian intifada began in September 2000. • December 2002 — Elliott Abrams is named the senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council. Abrams is a key ally to many American Jewish leaders, and becomes a key liaison among the White House, Israel and the Jewish community on Middle East matters. • Dec. 20, 2002 — Leaders of the Quartet meet at the White House, but do not officially unveil the road map. Sharon had argued that presentation of the peace plan would interfere with his re-election campaign, and Bush acquiesces. Sharon is re-elected a month later. • Feb. 26, 2003 — In a speech enunciating his rationale for war against Iraq, Bush says a change in regime in Iraq would create an opening for movement on the Israeli-Palestinian front by ridding Palestinian terrorists of a major source of funding. • March 10, 2003 — Abbas is appointed the new Palestinian prime minister. It will take him more than a month to create a Cabinet. • March 19, 2003 — A U.S.-led war against Iraq commences. It will officially end May 1. • April 30, 2003 — The road map is officially delivered to Sharon and Abbas. • May 17, 2003 — Sharon and Abbas meet face to face for the first time. • May 18, 2003 — Sharon cancels a planned trip to Washington and a meeting with Bush after a bus bombing in Jerusalem kills seven people and wounds 20. • May 23, 2003 — After White House officials acknowledge Israel’s concerns about the road map in a statement, Sharon officially accepts it. Two days later, the Israeli Cabinet approves the plan as well. • June 3, 2003 — Bush meets with Arab leaders in Egypt. He says Israel “must deal with the settlements” and make sure there is a contiguous Palestinian state. Arab leaders endorse the road map and agree to crack down on terrorism and its sources of funding. • June 4, 2003 — Bush meets in Aqaba, Jordan, with Sharon, Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah. Abbas calls for an end to the Palestinian “armed intifada” and Sharon says that he understands the Palestinians’ need for “territorial continuity” in the West Bank. Bush names John Wolf as a new Middle East envoy, charged with monitoring implementation of the road map.
Timeline of Bush’s Mideast actions