TIMELINE: Key events since 2006 Hamas election victory

(Reuters) - Israel and the new Palestinian government headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad opened formal high-level contacts on Wednesday, marking an end to Israel’s 15-month-long boycott of the Palestinian Authority.

Following is a chronology of key events since Hamas won a parliamentary election in January 2006:

Jan 25, 2006 - Hamas defeats Abbas’s long-dominant Fatah movement in an upset victory.

March 29 - Hamas government sworn in after other factions including Fatah refuse to join. United States severs contact with the new government. The U.S. and EU suspend aid on April 7.

June 25 - Hamas militants and other gunmen launch raid into Israel from Gaza, killing two soldiers and capturing an Israeli conscript, Corporal Gilad Shalit. Three days later Israel invades Gaza.

Sept 11 - Abbas and Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh announce agreement to form a unity administration. Talks quickly founder over what the new cabinet’s stance will be towards Israel.

Oct 1 - Worst internal Palestinian fighting in a decade raises fears of civil war.

Nov 26 - Ceasefire in Gaza announced, ending five-month Israeli offensive that followed abduction of Shalit, who remains held by militants.

Nov 30 - Abbas says continued unity talks at a “dead end”.

Dec 16 - Abbas calls for early elections. The move triggers clashes between Fatah and Hamas. Fatah and Hamas agree to ceasefire four days later.

Dec 23 - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas hold first formal talks. Israel agrees to unfreeze $100 million in withheld tax funds.

Jan 21, 2007 - Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Abbas fail to settle differences in Damascus talks on unity government.

Jan 30 - Fatah and Hamas agree to ceasefire.

Feb 2 - Fighting between Hamas and Fatah factions intensifies in Gaza, with Hamas overrunning compounds used by Abbas’s security forces.

Feb 8 - Abbas and Meshaal sign a coalition deal in Saudi Arabia to end factional warfare. The agreement makes no mention of recognizing Israel.

Feb 15 - Abbas formally asks Haniyeh to form unity cabinet and urges him to respect peace accords signed with Israel.

March 17 - The Palestinian unity government takes office.

May 27 - Hamas says it will not halt rocket fire against Israel, as proposed by Abbas, after the Jewish state vows to press ahead with its attacks on Gaza.

June 14 - Hamas takes over Gaza from Fatah in a series of battles. At least 100 people are killed in the heavy fighting.

-- Abbas dismisses the Palestinian government and declares a state of emergency. Haniyeh says his government will ignore the “hasty decision” to dismiss it.

June 15 - Abbas appoints independent lawmaker Salam Fayyad to serve as prime minister of an emergency government.

June 16 - The United States says it will lift a ban on aid to the new Palestinian emergency government.

June 17 - A new 13-member emergency cabinet is sworn in.

June 18 - The United States lifts its aid embargo on the Palestinian government.

June 19 - Olmert meets U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington and the two pledge to bolster Abbas.

June 20 - Israel and the new Palestinian government open formal contacts.