September 23, 2011 / 2:51 PM / 8 years ago

Timeline: Milestones in Middle East peace moves

(Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask the United Nations on Friday to recognize a state for his people.

Here are key dates on Middle East peace on the long road to this point:

1948 - Great powers recognize Israel. Arabs reject U.N. partition plan that gives Jews 56 percent of Palestine. War breaks out, leaving Israel with 78 percent of land and half of Palestine’s Arabs as refugees.

1967 - In what it calls pre-emptive strikes on Arab states, Israeli forces seize rest of British-mandate Palestine, taking West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and Gaza Strip from Egypt. Israel captures Golan Heights from Syria.

1988 - After a year of Intifada (uprising), exiled PLO leader Yasser Arafat, acknowledged as speaking for Palestinians, renounces terrorism and accepts Israel’s right to exist. He also that year unilaterally declared Palestinian independence. Since then, more than a hundred countries have recognized Palestine despite the fact it has no defined borders.

1991 - As Cold War ends, Middle East conference in Madrid, backed by Washington and Moscow, paves way for peace accords.

1993 - Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin trade historic handshake at U.S. President Bill Clinton’s White House, sealing Oslo Accords outline for limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

1996 - Following 1995 assassination of Rabin by an Israeli opposed to Oslo concessions and after wave of suicide bombings in Israel by Hamas, Arafat’s Islamist rivals, right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu elected Israeli leader.

2000 - At Camp David, Clinton fails to bring Arafat and Israeli Labour Prime Minister Ehud Barak to agreement on final settlement. Months later, second Palestinian Intifada brings several years of bombings and wider violence.

2003 - “Road map” for peace — drafted by the Middle East Quartet, comprising the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia — binds both sides to curbing violence and Israel to halting Jewish settlement on occupied land.

2005 - After Arafat’s death in 2004, Mahmoud Abbas elected Palestinian president. Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pulls settlers and troops out of the Gaza Strip.

2006 - Hamas wins Palestinian parliamentary election, forms government that is boycotted by Israel and Western powers.

2007 - Citing fears of U.S.-backed plan to oust Hamas from government, Islamists seize control in Gaza from Abbas’s forces. Months later, Bush brings Abbas and Sharon’s successor Ehud Olmert together at Annapolis to launch new bid for peace deal.

December 2008 - After a year of desultory talks, Abbas quits negotiations when Olmert launches offensive on Hamas-run Gaza.

January 2009 - New U.S. President Barack Obama names George Mitchell, once Northern Ireland mediator, as Middle East envoy.

March - After Israeli elections, Netanyahu again becomes prime minister at head of a mostly right-wing coalition.

June - After calls from Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, for an end to settlement growth and new peace talks, Netanyahu accepts Palestinian state should be created — in time, and under conditions to protect Israel’s security.

November - Clinton hails Netanyahu’s partial, 10-month halt on building permits in West Bank settlements as “unprecedented.” Abbas demands similar freeze in East Jerusalem. Israel refuses.

Sept 2010 - Direct peace talks finally resume but they end after just a couple of weeks when Israel refuses to extend its partial settlement freeze.

December - Palestinians reject an offer put by Netanyahu to move toward an interim peace deal rather than a final settlement, to try and bypass sticky conflict issues.

April 2011 - Abbas’s faction strikes unexpected reconciliation deal with Hamas, but months later the two sides are still far from agreeing on a unity government.

May - Israeli troops kill at least 13 Palestinians who surged toward its frontiers with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on May 15, the day Palestinians mourn the establishment of Israel in the deadliest confrontation in years of anniversary clashes.

— Obama’s call for Israel to give Palestinians territory it has occupied since 1967 stuns visiting Prime Minister Netanyahu and pushes their thawing relationship back into the freezer.

— In a speech days later, Netanyahu says explicitly for the first time, he is prepared to give up some settlements for peace. Palestinians reject his conditions as unacceptable.

— Abbas tells Arab League meeting that there are “no shared foundations” for peace talks with Netanyahu and that to seek U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood is his only option.

September 23 - Abbas to ask the U.N. to recognize a state for his people, even though Israel still occupies its territory and the United States has vowed to veto the move.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald and David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; editing by Crispian Balmer

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