Timeline: Milestones of war and peace

Below is a timeline of key events in the Arab-Israeli peace process since the 1967 Six Day war.

Arafat became head of the Palestinian movement in 1969
Arafat became head of the Palestinian movement in 1969

22 November 1967

Following the Six Day war between Israel on one side and Egypt, Syria and Jordan on the other side (which ended on 10 June 1967), the UN issues resolution 242 on this day. It stipulates that the Security Council is: “expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East, emphasising the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every state in the area can live in security”. The resolution becomes the basis for all future peace treaties, agreements and accords.

14 February 1969

The fifth Palestinian National Council meeting convenes in Cairo. Yasir Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), is declared chairman of the executive committee, effectively becoming head of the Palestinian movement.

Jamal Abd al-Nasir led Egyptians
during the 1967 war with Israel

25 June 1970

US Secretary of State William Rogers launches an initiative for peace in the Middle East, later known as the Rogers Plan. It is described as an encouragement to Israel and the Arabs to move towards a just and lasting peace by means of a final settlement. Jamal Abd al-Nasir, Egypt’s president, accepts the plan as a way of lessening Egyptian-Israeli hostilities. 

6 October 1973

Egypt and Syria attack Israeli forces in the Sinai and Golan Heights on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, hoping to reclaim territory lost in the Six Day war. They make initial gains but are forced to retreat after an Israeli counter-attack. After regaining the territory, Israel’s prime minister Golda Meir resigns.

9 November 1977

Egypt’s president Anwar al-Sadat astonishes the world when he turns up in Israel, the first Arab head of state to recognise and visit Israel. Addressing the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, al-Sadat’s speech paves the way for the Camp David accords signed between Egypt and Israel under US sponsorship. The accords become the cornerstone for the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country. It is signed on 26 March 1979, formally ending the state of war between the two sides.

7 August 1981

The then Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Fahd bin Abd al-Aziz – later to become King Fahd of Saudi Arabia – announces an initiative for peace in the Middle East. The initiative consists of eight articles of intent, including an implicit recognition of Israel. It mentions the right to exist for all Middle Eastern countries, and is based mainly on UN resolution 242. The initiative calls for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. (But Israel annexes East Jerusalem a year later.) In November 1981, the initiative is officially submitted to the first Arab Summit in Fez, Morocco, but fails to win majority approval. Fez hosts another Arab summit in 1982 and the initiative is resubmitted and is approved by an overwhelming majority.

Victims of the 1982 Sabra and
Shatila massacre in Lebanon

6 June 1982

Israel invades Lebanon and occupies its southern region causing a furore in the Arab world. All diplomatic peace initiatives are suspended. The Israeli army allows the newly created Christian SLA (South Lebanon Army) to carry out massacres and commit human-rights abuses.

23 November 1984

The Palestinian National Council holds its 17th session in Amman, Jordan. King Husayn of Jordan delivers a speech urging conferees to agree on a Jordanian–Palestinian peace initiative, based on UN resolution 242. The Palestinian leadership, startling the world, announces that the PLO is considering dropping armed resistance against Israel and could agree to live side by side with an Israeli state if Israel were to pull out from the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The Arab states start intensive diplomatic efforts to reach a compromise with Israel on this.

In 1985 Jordan and the PLO agree on co-federalism in a bid to form a pan-Arab formula for peace in the Middle East. The formula stipulates that lands recovered from Israeli occupation would be annexed to Jordan under a federation system. But efforts collapse when Israeli warplanes bomb PLO headquarters in Tunis.

9 December 1987

An Intifada (popular uprising) among the occupied Palestinian population begins. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including women, children and teenagers take part. The symbol of the intifada becomes the stone-throwing of children confronting the Israeli army. Between December 1987 and September 1993 (the Declaration of Principles Agreement) thousands of Palestinians are killed, with the UN reporting the Palestinian death ratio at 25 to 1 Israeli during this first intifada.

6 March 1991

The US, fresh from victory in the first Gulf war, announces an initiative for peace in the Middle East to take place in the autumn of that year.

30 October 1991

An international peace conference, co-sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union and with Israeli and Arab delegates, is convened in Madrid, Spain. The talks do not prove successful, yet it leads to secret meetings in Oslo, Norway, between the PLO and Israeli officials and makes promising progress.

Yitzak Rabin and Yasir Arafat
at the Oslo I peace agreement

13 September 1993

The PLO and Israel officially recognise each other by signing a Declaration of Principles (DoP) in Washington, DC. The agreement, drawn up in Oslo, stipulates that during a five-year interim period, Palestinians would gradually be handed the administration of the West Bank and Gaza, and continue to negotiate a permanent peace treaty to settle on the final status of the occupied territories.

1 July 1994

Arafat returns to the Gaza Strip, Palestine, after 27 years in exile and is to head an interim administration of the new Palestinian Authority.

King Husayn, Bill Clinton and
Yitzhak Rabin in October 1994

26 October 1994

Jordan and Israel sign the Treaty of Peace in Araba Valley, Jordan, to become the second Arab state after Egypt to end the state of war with Israel. As in 1993, the peace treaty is backed by diplomatic moves by the US.

24 September 1995

Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres sign the Taba Agreement. The agreement sets up the mechanism for a transitional period towards Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, during which Palestinians will assume control over Palestinian towns and villages, and consequently ends a 28-year occupation there.

4 November 1995

Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by a Jewish extremist. Peres becomes prime minister.

11 December 1995

Peres spells out his notion of a “grand peace” based on Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, Syria (occupied by Israel since the 1967 conflict), in return for full normalisation of relations with Syria and the Arab states. President Hafez al-Assad of Syria responds positively to the initiative.

22 June 1996

Arafat wins elections and is sworn in as Palestinian president.

23 October 1998

Following a 19-month deadlock, during which Israelis and Palestinians exchange accusations of disrupting the peace process, the Wye River Memorandum is signed in the US, promising Palestinians faster and further autonomy. A revised accord is signed in September kickstarting fresh talks.

22 May 2000

Battered by frequent attacks mounted year on year by Islamist resistance group Hizb Allah (Party of God), Israel’s prime minister Ehud Barak announces a hasty withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon, after 22 years of occupation.

25 July 2000

A marathon summit hosted by US President Bill Clinton between Barak and Arafat at Camp David collapses when they fail to agree on, among other things, the future status of Jerusalem.

28-29 September 2000

Ariel Sharon enters al-Aqsa
mosque with his security guards

In a highy provocative move, Israeli politician Ariel Sharon visits al-Aqsa mosque, sparking a violent reaction from Palestinians. The peace process in the Middle East receives a deadly blow as Israel reoccupies the Palestinian territories amid fighting between the Palestinian and Israeli army. A second intifada begins which, according to Israeli human rights organisation BTselem, kills 2171 Palestinians and 194 Israelis killed by 15 October 2003.

17 October 2000

Egypt hosts the Sharm al-Shaikh peace summit. The summit announces a plan to bring weeks of Israeli-Palestinian confrontation to an end. The plan does not succeed.

21 May 2001

Former US Senator George Mitchell releases his long-awaited report (the Mitchell Plan) on the Middle East conflict. It calls for a ceasefire, confidence-building measures and, ultimately, negotiations.

16 June 2002

Israel begins construction of its wall to enclose the West Bank.

Yasir Arafat’s headquarters in
Ram Allah come under attack

20 September 2002

Israel besieges Arafat’s headquarters in Ram Allah, demolishing most of his office complex and confining him there, while simultaneously embarking on a policy of extra-judicial assassinations and imprisonment of Palestinian leaders.

26 February 2003

Israel begins a series of incursions (repeated throughout the year) that lead to the reoccupation of parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, inflicting widespread damage and heavy civilian casualties.

27 February 2003

Crown Prince Abd Allah bin Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia announces an Arab peace initiative in the Middle East. The plan insists on Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories in return for Arab recognition of Israel’s right to exist. A similar version but with reservations is adopted later by the Arab League.

29-30 April 2003

Former Palestinian Prime
Minister Mahmud Abbas

Following the invasion of Iraq by the US and allied occupation forces, Arafat, under intense international pressure, allows the election of Mahmud Abbas as Palestinian prime minister to embrace a reform and peace agenda. The Israelis and Palestinians receive the long overdue, heavily promoted “road map” formula for peace, internationally backed by the quartet of the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

4 June 2003

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas meet at Aqaba, Jordan, to discuss the implementation of the peace road map.

Source: Al Jazeera

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