WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is hosting Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Washington this week in an effort to restart direct Mideast peace negotiations after a 20-month hiatus.
Below is an outline of the Obama administration’s efforts to this point.
January - During his first week in office, U.S. President Barack Obama names veteran troubleshooter George Mitchell as Middle East envoy. Obama says he will send Mitchell to the Middle East as soon as possible.
At the time, Obama says: “It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors.”
The previous U.S. administration of President George W. Bush worked to try and get a Palestinian statehood deal, but fell far short of that with Israel launching its three-week military offensive in Gaza in the last days of 2008.
June - After calls from Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, for an end to settlement growth on the West Bank and new peace talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts that Palestinian state should be created -- in time, and under conditions to protect Israel’s security.
September - Obama brings Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu together for a handshake at the United Nations, disappointing Palestinian hopes he would keep backing Abbas’s demand for a freeze on settlements before new talks.
November - Clinton praises Netanyahu’s partial, 10-month halt on settlement construction in the West Bank even though it falls short of the U.S. goal of a full freeze. Abbas under mounting U.S. pressure to return to negotiations.
March - The Obama administration is furious with Israel when it announces the building of more settler homes around Jerusalem during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
May - Israeli marines storm a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza, killing 9 pro-Palestinian activists. Netanyahu cancels his trip to the White House. The Obama administration does not join the international outcry. Obama says he wants to know the facts and says he regrets the loss of life.
June - Obama hosts Abbas at the White House and pledges $400 million in U.S. assistance for the West Bank and Gaza. Obama calls the situation in Gaza unsustainable and urges Israel to help ease restrictions on humanitarian aid and civilian goods.
July - Trying to improve relations between the United States and Israel, Obama and Netanyahu meet in Washington. Obama urges Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks by September. Netanyahu promises concrete steps to clear the way but does not provide specifics.
May - Mitchell starts indirect talks with Israel and the Palestinians.
August - Mitchell meets with Netanyahu in Israel where the Israeli prime minister says he wants to get quickly to full-scale peace talks. Mitchell also meets with Abbas and has “serious and positive talks,” according to a Palestinian official.
Clinton invites Netanyahu and Abbas to resume talks in Washington on September 2, and both sides accept.
Reporting by Washington newsroom
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