January 9, 2008 / 2:48 PM / 10 years ago

Chronology of US support for Middle East peace moves


Jan 9 (Reuters) - George W. Bush began his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories as U.S. president on Wednesday, saying he saw a new opportunity for peace he aims to nurture in the face of deep scepticism.

Accused for years of neglecting the Middle East's most intractable conflict, Bush will try to nudge Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas forward in a fragile peace process relaunched at Annapolis, Maryland.

Here is a short timeline of U.S. involvement in Middle East peace efforts over the past 30 years:

1978 - Camp David talks between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin seen as breakthrough for U.S. peace efforts. A peace treaty is signed in March 1979.

1988 - U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz proposes an international Middle East peace conference to include the Soviet Union. Arab states reject the plan as it excludes the Palestine Liberation Organisation

-- In December the U.S. starts dialogue with the PLO after its leader Yasser Arafat renounces terrorism and the Palestine National Council, the Palestinian parliament-in-exile, implicitly recognises Israel.

Sept. 13, 1993 - At White House, Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin make historic handshake, sealing outline for limited Palestinian self-rule under interim peace accord secretly negotiated in Oslo, Norway.

Oct. 26, 1994 - Israel and Jordan sign a peace treaty in a ceremony at their border, attended by President Bill Clinton.

Oct. 1-2, 1996 - Clinton convenes emergency White House summit with new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Arafat after unprecedented gun battles and protests over the opening of a tunnel near al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites in Jerusalem.

Jan. 15, 1997 - A deal signed by the Palestinians with Netanyahu's government clears the way for the long delayed handover of 80 percent of the West Bank city of Hebron to Palestinian rule.

-- The U.S.-brokered Hebron deal constitutes an ideological about-face for Netanyahu, who had always opposed the land-for-peace formula.

Oct. 23, 1998 - Arafat, Netanyahu and Clinton hold a nine-day summit at Wye River near Washington that ends with a White House signing of a land-for-security peace deal. Jordan's King Hussein joins the summit.

-- Netanyahu freezes the deal two months later, saying Palestinians failed to meet their security commitments.

Dec. 15, 1998 - Clinton's two-hour summit with Arafat and Netanyahu at the Israeli-Gaza border fails to resolve a crisis over the Wye River deal.

July 11, 2000 - Clinton invites Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat to Camp David for a summit to resolve disputes. Talks end in crisis.

April 30, 2003 - "Road map" for peace drafted by the Middle East Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

June 4, 2003 - U.S. President George W. Bush meets Sharon and Abbas in Aqaba, Jordan at their first three-way summit. They agree to press ahead with road map.

July 16, 2007 - U.S. President George W. Bush calls for Middle East peace conference bringing together Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states.

Nov. 27, 2007 - The U.S. hosts an international conference in Annapolis, Maryland that yields promises from both sides to try to forge a two-state agreement by the end of 2008.

Jan. 9, 2008 - Bush starts his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories as U.S. president. (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)



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