Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Background, Conflicts, and U.S. Policy

Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

After the first Gulf war, in 1991, a new peace process consisting of bilateral negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinians, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon achieved mixed results. Milestones
included the Israeli-Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Declaration of Principles (DOP) of
September 13, 1993, providing for Palestinian empowerment and some territorial control, the
Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty of October 26, 1994, and the Interim Self-Rule in the West Bank or
Oslo II accord of September 28, 1995, which led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority
(PA) to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, Israeli-Syrian negotiations were
intermittent and difficult, and postponed indefinitely in 2000. Negotiations with Lebanon also
were unsuccessful, leading Israel to withdraw unilaterally from south Lebanon on May 24, 2000.
President Clinton held a summit with Israeli and Palestinian leaders at Camp David on final status
issues that July, but they did not produce an accord. A Palestinian uprising or intifadah began in
September. On February 6, 2001, Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister of Israel, and rejected
steps taken at Camp David and afterwards.
On April 30, 2003, the United States, the U.N., European Union, and Russia (known as the
“Quartet”) presented a “Road Map” to Palestinian statehood. It has not been implemented. Israel
unilaterally disengaged (withdrew) from the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the West
Bank in August 2005. On January 9, 2005, Mahmud Abbas became President of the PA. The
victory of Hamas, which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist group, in the January

2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections complicated prospects for peace as the United States,

Israel, and the Quartet would not deal with a Hamas-led government until it disavowed violence,
recognized Israel, and accepted prior Israeli-Palestinian accords. President Abbas’s dissolution of
the Hamas-led government in response to the June 2007 Hamas military takeover of the Gaza
Strip led to resumed international contacts with the PA. On November 27, at an international
conference in Annapolis, MD, President Bush read a Joint Understanding in which Abbas and
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to simultaneously resume bilateral negotiations on
core issues and implement the Road Map. On May 21, 2008, Israel, Syria, and Turkey announced
that Syria and Israel had begun indirect peace talks in Istanbul with Turkish mediators. Israeli and
U.S. elections appear to be disrupting all negotiations.
Congress is interested in issues related to Middle East peace because of its oversight role in the
conduct of U.S. foreign policy, its support for Israel, and keen constituent interest. It is especially th
concerned about U.S. financial and other commitments to the parties, and the 110 Congress is
engaged in these matters. Congress also has endorsed Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel,
although U.S. Administrations have consistently maintained that the fate of the city is the subject
of final status negotiations. This CRS report will be updated as developments warrant. See also
CRS Report RS22768, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process: The Annapolis Conference, by Carol
Migdalovitz, CRS Report RL33566, Lebanon: The Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah Conflict, by Jeremy
M. Sharp et al., and CRS Report RS22967, U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians, by Jim Zanotti.

Most Recent Developments.............................................................................................................1
Israel-Pal estine .......................................................................................................................... 1
Israel-S yr ia ................................................................................................................................ 2
Backgr ound ..................................................................................................................................... 2
U.S. Role.........................................................................................................................................3
Conferences, Negotiations, Conflicts..............................................................................................3
Madrid ................................................................................................................................. 3
Bilateral Talks and Developments.............................................................................................4
Israel-Pales tinians ............................................................................................................... 4
Israel-S yr ia ........................................................................................................................ 23
Is rael-Lebanon ................................................................................................................. .29
Is rael-J ordan.................................................................................................................. .... 33
Significant Agreements and Documents........................................................................................33
Israel-PLO Mutual Recognition........................................................................................33
Declaration of Principles...................................................................................................34
Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area..........................................................34
Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty................................................................................................34
Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, West Bank-Gaza Strip.........................................34
Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron..........................................................34
Wye River Memorandum..................................................................................................35
Sharm al Shaykh Memorandum........................................................................................35
A Performance-Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict............................................................................................35
Agreement on Movement and Access...............................................................................35
Joint Understanding..........................................................................................................35
Role of Congress...........................................................................................................................36
Aid ...................................................................................................................................36
Jerusale m .......................................................................................................................... 37
Compliance/ Sanctions....................................................................................................... 37
Israeli Raid on Suspected Syrian Nuclear Site..................................................................37
Other .......................................................................................................................... ....... 38
Figure 1. Israel and Its Neighbors.................................................................................................39
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................39

In a September 10, 2008, interview with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam, U.S. Consul
General in Jerusalem Jacob Walles said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had tried to help
the two sides clarify what they are negotiating about when they refer to the 1967 borders. He
claimed that both accepted that the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and part of the Dead 1
Sea are the basis for negotiations. Walles’s inclusion of Jerusalem appeared to contradict Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert’s insistence that negotiations had not started on Jerusalem because they
might lead a coalition partner to withdraw from his government and bring it down. Hence,
Olmert’s office claimed that there are no negotiations on Jerusalem, but that a separate
mechanism might be set up to discuss the city in the future. Regarding Walles remarks, Foreign 2
Minister Tzipi Livni stated, “what was said was not correct.”
On September 24, the same paper reported chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmad Quray saying that
Palestinians reject Olmert’s suggestion that an agreement excluding Jerusalem be reached. Quray
also stressed that the Palestinians do not was the United States to offer suggestions for a solution.
He was not optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement this year and called for the
accomplishments of the negotiations to be carried over into the new Israeli and U.S.
Administrations. He elaborated that a comprehensive agreement should address all details so that 3
“there are no arguments when the implementation process starts.” Foreign Minister Livni said
that the political situations in Israel and of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmud Abbas 4
do not allow an agreement to be signed.
In an interview conducted on September 22 and published on September 29, Olmert stated that
Israel would have to give up “almost all” of the West Bank and accept the division of Jerusalem
for the sake of reaching peace. He also said that the Palestinians must receive an equal amount of
Israeli territory for any West Bank land that Israel retains. Abbas disclosed that the Israeli land
swap offer is 6.8% in return for 5.5% and that he rejected “offers that lead to discontinuous land 5
areas and loss of control over water resources.”
On October 22, Israel and the PA reached an agreement to deploy about 550 U.S.-trained
Palestinian police to Hebron.
On October 26, Foreign Minister and Olmert’s replacement as Kadima Party leader Livni
reported that she had been unable to form a new coalition government, thereby triggering early
national elections in Israel on February 10, 2009. Despite this development, the State Department

1 For text of Abd-al-Rauf Arna’ut interview with Walles, printed in Al-Ayyam on September 11, 2008, see “Palestinian
Paper Interviews US Consul General Jake Walles,” BBC Monitoring Middle East, September 13, 2008.
2 Herb Keinon and Shelly Paz, “Kadima in Uproar over Talk of J’lem,Jerusalem Post, September 11, 2008.
3 Abd-al-Rauf Arna’ut, “Livni Informed Abu-Ala that Negotiations will Continue,” Al-Ayyam, September 24, 2008,
Open Source Center Document GMP20080924762003.
4 Barak Ravid, “Livni Tells Kouchner: I Oppose Olmert’s Peace Plan,, October 6, 2008.
5 Abd-al-Rauf Arna’ut, “President Abbas says: We are Ready to Call Simultaneous Legislative and Presidential
Elections,” Al-Ayyam, October 20, 2008, Open Source Center Document GMP20081020762002.

spokesman said that the United States remains committed to the Annapolis process and insisted
“what we have here is the best opportunity to try to reach a negotiated settlement,” although he
admitted that possible Israeli elections complicate the issue. He also said that he expected the
parties to continue to work on “the institution-building, improving the situation on the ground, as 6
well as maintaining important international regional support for the process.”
The fifth round of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel has been postponed. The Turkish
government, which serves as mediator, said that Israel had made the request due to technical and
legal problems. Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Miqdad reported that Syria had asked the
Israelis to express a final opinion about the line of withdrawal and insisted that it be on the June

4, 1967 border.7 Israeli military intelligence reportedly has concluded that, under the next U.S.

administration, Syria would be willing to sign a peace accord with Israel if a return to the 1967
border is guaranteed and if it includes generous U.S. economic aid comparable to that which
Egypt has received since signing a peace agreement with Israel. The analysts also believe that 8
Syria would be willing to “cool down” its relations with Iran as the price of an accord.

Before the first Gulf war in 1991, Arab-Israeli conflict marked every decade since the founding of
Israel. With each clash, issues separating the parties multiplied and became more intractable. The
creation of the State of Israel in 1948 provided a home for the Jewish people, but the ensuing
conflict made refugees of hundreds of thousands of Arab residents of formerly British Palestine,
with consequences troubling for Arabs and Israelis alike. It also led to a mass movement of
Jewish citizens of Arab states to Israel. The 1967 war ended with Israel occupying territory of
Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Egypt and Syria fought the 1973 war, in part, to regain their lands. In
1982, Israel invaded southern Lebanon to prevent terrorist incursions; it withdrew in 1985, but
retained a 9-mile “security zone” that Lebanon sought to reclaim. Middle East peace has been a
U.S. and international diplomatic goal throughout the years of conflict. The 1978 Camp David
talks, the only previous direct Arab-Israeli negotiations, brought about the 1979 Israel-Egypt 9
Peace Treaty.

6 U.S. State Department, Daily Press Briefing, October 27, 2008, accessible via
7 Interview with Miqdad by Layla al-Shayib and Al-Habib al-Ghuraybi on Al-Jazeera TV, October 23, 2008, BBC
Monitoring Middle East, October 24, 2008.
8 Amir Rapaport, “IB Estimate: Syria’s Peace Intentions are Serious, Maariv, October 23, 2008, BBC Monitoring
Middle East, October 24, 2008.
9 For additional background, see William B. Quandt, Peace Process, American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli
Conflict since 1967, Washington, DC, Brookings Institution Press, Revised Edition 2001; Charles Enderlin, Shattered
Dreams: The Failure of the Peace Process in the Middle East, New York, Other Press, 2003; Anton La Guardia, War
Without End: Israelis Palestinians and the Struggle for a Promised Land, New York, St. Martin’s Griffin, Revised and
Updated, 2003; Alan Dowty, Israel/Palestine, Cambridge, UK, Polity Press, 2005; and Dennis Ross, The Missing
Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.

With the Gulf war in 1991, President George H.W. Bush declared solving the Arab-Israeli conflict
among his postwar goals. On March 6, 1991, he outlined a framework for peace based on U.N.
Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of “land for peace.” Secretary of
State James Baker organized a peace conference in Madrid in October 1991 that launched almost
a decade of the “Oslo process” to achieve peace. It continued under President William Clinton,
who asserted that only the region’s leaders can make peace and vowed to be their partner. With
the Hebron Protocol of 1997, however, the United States seemed to become an indispensable and
expected party to Israeli-Palestinian talks. Clinton mediated the 1998 Wye River Memorandum,
and the United States coordinated its implementation. He personally led negotiations at Camp
David in 2000.
The George W. Bush administration initially sought a less prominent role, and Secretary of State
Colin Powell did not appoint a special Middle East envoy. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks, the Administration focused on the peace process mainly as part of the war on terrorism.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also did not name a special envoy, asserting, “Not every
effort has to be an American effort. It is extremely important that the parties themselves are taking 10
responsibility.” She encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to act, but personally mediated a
November 2005 accord to reopen the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt after Israel’s
withdrawal from Gaza. In 2007, she engaged again partly in order to elicit the support of
moderate Sunni Arab governments to thwart the rise of Iranian influence. Those governments see
resolution of the Palestinian issue as a key to regional stability and to denying Iran opportunities
for destabilizing actions.
The Joint Understanding presented at the November 2007 Annapolis Conference creates a new
role for the United States as “judge” of Israel’s and the Palestinians’ fulfillment of their
commitments under the 2003 international Road Map to a two-state solution. In January 2008,
President Bush appointed (Air Force) Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, assistant to the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, to monitor the parties’ compliance with their commitments. Gen. Fraser ,
who has been replaced by Lt. Gen. Paul J. Selva, was not to mediate or enforce compliance.
Instead, according to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Fraser “will be in dialogue with
Palestinians and Israelis and get the facts on what each of them is doing to implement the Road
Map—what they are doing, what they are not doing—and to bring that to their attention ... 11
encouraging the parties to move forward on their obligations to complete the Road Map.” Fraser
was to visit the region “from time to time,” but the trilateral mechanism has barely functioned.

The peace conference opened on October 30, 1991. Parties were represented by 14-member
delegations. A combined Jordanian/Palestinian delegation had 14 representatives from each. An

10 Anne Gearan, “Rice Blasts Way Iran Treats Its Own People, Associated Press, February 4, 2005.
11 Press Briefing, January 10, 2008,

unofficial Palestinian advisory team coordinated with the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO). The United States, the Soviet Union, Syria, Palestinians/Jordan, the European
Community, Egypt, Israel, and Lebanon sat at the table. The U.N., the Gulf Cooperation 1213
Council, and the Arab Maghreb Union were observers.
(Incidents of violence are noted selectively.) In November 1991, Israel and the
Jordanian/Palestinian delegation agreed to separate Israeli-Jordanian and Israeli-Palestinian
negotiating tracks, the latter to address a five-year period of interim Palestinian self-rule in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the third year, permanent status negotiations were to begin. On
August 9, 1993, Palestinian negotiators were appointed to a PLO coordination committee, ending
efforts to make it appear that the PLO was not part of the talks. Secret talks in Oslo produced a
Declaration of Principles (DOP), signed by Israel and the PLO on September 13, 1993. Through
the end of the decade, incremental advances were made, including Israel’s withdrawal from major
cities and towns and Palestinian self-government as the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, no
final agreement was reached. (See “Significant Agreements,” below, for summaries of and links
to accords reached between 1993 and 2000. This narrative resumes with the Camp David
President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and PA Chairman Yasir Arafat held a
summit at Camp David, from July 11 to July 24, 2000, to forge a framework accord on final
status issues. They did not succeed. The parties had agreed that there would be no agreement
unless all issues were resolved. Jerusalem was the major obstacle. Israel proposed that it remain
united under its sovereignty, leaving the Palestinians control, not sovereignty, over East Jerusalem
and Muslim holy sites. Israel was willing to cede more than 90% of the West Bank, wanted to
annex settlements where about 130,000 settlers lived, and offered to admit thousands of
Palestinian refugees in a family unification program. An international fund would compensate
other refugees as well as Israelis from Arab countries. The Palestinians reportedly were willing to
accept Israeli control over the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, but sought
sovereignty over East Jerusalem, particularly the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount, a site holy to
Jews and Muslims.
On September 28, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon, with 1,000 security forces, visited the
Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif. Palestinians protested, and Israel responded forcefully. The
second Palestinian intifadah or uprising against the Israeli occupation began. On October 12, a
mob in Ramallah killed two Israeli soldiers, provoking Israeli helicopter gunship attacks on
Palestinian official sites.
Barak resigned on December 10, triggering an early election for Prime Minister in Israel. Further
negotiations were held at Bolling Air Force Base, in Washington, D.C., December 19-23. On
December 23, President Clinton suggested that Israel cede sovereignty over the Temple

12 The Gulf Cooperation Council is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab
13 The Arab Maghreb Union is comprised of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Mount/Haram al Sharif and Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, 96% of the West Bank, all of the
Gaza Strip, and annex settlement blocs in exchange for giving the Palestinians Israeli land near
Gaza. Jerusalem would be the capital of two countries. The Palestinians would cede the right of
refugees to return to Israel and accept a Jewish “connection” to the Temple Mount and
sovereignty over the Western Wall and holy sites beneath it. The agreement would declare “an 14
end to conflict.” Barak said he would accept the plan as a basis for further talks if Arafat did so.
Arafat sought clarifications on contiguity of Palestinian state territory, the division of East
Jerusalem, and refugees’ right of return, among other issues. The Israeli-Palestinian talks
concluded at Taba, Egypt.
On February 6, 2001, Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister of Israel and vowed to retain
united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Jordan Valley, and other areas for security. Sharon’s
associates asserted that the results of negotiations at and after Camp David were “null and 15
void.” The Bush Administration said that Clinton’s proposals “were no longer United States 16
proposals.” Sharon sought an interim agreement, not dealing with Jerusalem, Palestinian
refugees, or a Palestinian state and, in an interview published on April 13, said that he could 17
accept a disarmed Palestinian state on 42% of the West Bank.
On September 24, Sharon declared, “Israel wants to give the Palestinians what no one else gave
them before, the possibility of a state.” On October 2, President Bush said, for the first time, “The
idea of a Palestinian state has always been part of a vision, so long as the right of Israel to exist is 18
respected.” On November 10, he declared that the United States is “working toward the day
when two states—Israel and Palestine—live peacefully together within secure and recognized
Secretary Powell sent General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.) to work on a cease-fire, but violence
impeded his mission. Israel confined Arafat to his headquarters in Ramallah on December 3. On
December 7, Sharon doubted that an accord could be reached with Arafat, “who is a real 19
terrorist.” On December 12, Hamas ambushed an Israeli bus in the West Bank and perpetrated
two simultaneous suicide bombings in Gaza. The Israeli cabinet charged that Arafat was “directly 20
responsible” for the attacks “and therefore is no longer relevant.”
On January 3, 2002, Israeli forces seized the Karine A, a Palestinian-commanded freighter,
carrying 50 tons of Iranian-supplied arms. Secretary Powell stated that Arafat “cannot engage
with us and others in the pursuit of peace, and at the same time permit or tolerate continued
violence and terror.” At the White House on February 7, Sharon said that he believed that
pressure should be put on Arafat so that an alternative Palestinian leadership could emerge.

14 For text of the Presidents speech describing his proposal, also known as “the Clinton Plan” or “Clinton Parameters,
see the Israel Policy Forum website at
15 Lee Hockstader, “Jerusalem is ‘Indivisible, Sharon Says; Camp David Concessions are Called ‘Null and Void,
Washington Post, February 8, 2001.
16 Jane Perlez, “Bush Officials Pronounce Clinton Mideast Plan Dead, New York Times, February 9, 2001.
17 Interview by Ari Shavit, Haaretz, April 13, 2001, Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Document
18 See for presidential statements cited in this report.
19Newsweek interview, quoted by Ibrahim Barzak, “Jewish Settlements Mortared in Gaza; Israel Leader Raps Arafat in
Interview, Associated Press, December 9, 2001.
20 “Israeli Cabinet Decision on Cutting Contacts with Arafat, Government Press Office, December 13, 2001, FBIS
Document GMP200111213000010.

On February 17, Saudi Crown Prince (later King) Abdullah unprecedentedly called for “full
withdrawal from all occupied territories, in accord with U.N. resolutions, including Jerusalem, in
exchange for full normalization of relations.” On March 28, the Arab League endorsed his 21
proposal with some revisions; it is known as the “Arab Peace Initiative.” Prime Minister Sharon
said that he was willing to explore the idea but that it would be a “mistake” to replace U.N.
resolutions affirming Israel’s right to “secure and recognized borders” with total withdrawal to
pre-1967 borders.
On March 27, Hamas perpetrated a suicide bombing at a hotel in Netanya during Passover
celebrations, killing 27 and wounding 130. Israel declared Arafat “an enemy” and Israeli forces
besieged his compound in Ramallah; they soon controlled all major Palestinian-ruled West Bank
On June 24, President Bush called on the Palestinians to elect new leaders “not compromised by
terror” and to build a practicing democracy. Then, he said, the United States will support the
creation of a Palestinian state, whose borders and certain aspects of sovereignty will be
provisional until a final settlement. He added, “as we make progress toward security, Israeli
forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000 ... and (Israeli) 22
settlement activity must stop.” The President foresaw a final peace accord within three years.
On September 17, the Quartet (U.S., European Union (EU), U.N., and Russian officials) outlined
a preliminary “Road Map” to peace based on the President’s ideas.
On March 7, 2003, in what was seen as a gesture to appeal to the Quartet, Arafat named Mahmud
Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) Prime Minister. On April 14, Sharon acknowledged that Israel would
have to part with some places bound up in the history of the Jewish people, but insisted that the
Palestinians recognize the Jewish people’s right to its homeland and abandon their claim of a 23
right of refugees to return to Israel. On April 14, Israel submitted 14 reservations on the Road 24
Map. On April 30, the Quartet officially presented the Road Map. Abbas accepted it. On May
23, the Bush Administration stated that Israel had explained its concerns and that the United
States shares the view “that these are real concerns and will address them fully and seriously in
the implementation of the Road Map,” leading Sharon and his cabinet to accept “steps defined” in
the Road Map “with reservations” on May 25. The next day, Sharon declared, “to keep 3.5
million people under occupation is bad for us and them,” using the word occupation for the first
On June 4, President Bush met Abbas and Sharon in Aqaba, Jordan. Abbas vowed to achieve the
Palestinians’ goals by peaceful means, while Sharon expressed understanding of “the importance
of territorial contiguity” for a viable Palestinian state and promised to “remove unauthorized
outposts” in the West Bank. Abbas said that he would use dialogue, not force, to convince
Palestinian groups. On June 29, Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) suspended military
operations against Israel for three months, while Fatah declared a six-month truce. Israel was not
a party to the accord, but began withdrawing forces from Gaza. Abbas asked Sharon to release

21 For “Arab Peace Initiative,” see
22 For text of the speech, see
23Sharon,Certain’ of PassingPainful Concessions in Knesset,” Maariv, April 15, 2003, FBIS Document
24 For text of Israels reservations, see Israels Response to the Road Map, online at
docs/Road Map_response_eng.htm.

Palestinian prisoners, remove roadblocks, withdraw from more Palestinian cities, allow Arafat
free movement, and end construction of a security barrier that Israeli is building in the West
Bank. Israel demanded that the Palestinians dismantle terrorist infrastructures and act against
On August 6, Israel released 339 prisoners. On August 19, a Hamas suicide bomber exploded in
Jerusalem, killing 22, including 5 Americans, and injuring more than 130. Abbas cut contacts
with Hamas and the PIJ, and unsuccessfully sought Arafat’s support to act against terrorists. Israel
suspended talks with the Palestinians, halted plans to transfer cities to their control, and resumed
“targeted killings” of terrorist leaders, among other measures. On September 6, Abbas resigned
because of what he charged was lack of support from Arafat, the United States, and Israel.
On October 15, a bomb detonated under an official U.S. vehicle in Gaza, killing three U.S.
security guards and wounding a fourth. Palestinian authorities arrested members of Popular
Resistance Committees, who would be freed in April 2004.
Sounds of discontent with government policy were heard in Israel, culminating in the signing of
the Geneva Accord, a Draft Permanent Status Agreement by Israeli opposition politicians and 25
prominent Palestinians on December 1. Perhaps partly to defuse these efforts, on December 18,
Sharon declared that, “to ensure a Jewish and democratic Israel,” he would unilaterally disengage
from the Palestinians by redeploying Israeli forces and relocating settlements in the Gaza Strip 26
and intensifying construction of the security fence in the West Bank. On February 13, 2004, the
White House said that an Israeli pullback “could reduce friction,” but that a final settlement “must
be achieved through negotiations.” After an upsurge in violence, Israeli missiles killed Hamas
leader Shaykh Ahmed Yassin on March 22.
On April 14, President Bush and Sharon met and exchanged letters.27 The President welcomed
Israel’s plan to disengage from Gaza and restated the U.S. commitment to the Road Map. He
noted the need to take into account changed “realities on the ground, including already existing
major Israeli population centers,” (i.e., settlements), asserting “it is unrealistic to expect that the
outcome of final status negotiations will be full and complete return to the armistice lines of
1949.” The President stated that a solution to the refugee issue will be found by settling
Palestinian refugees in a Palestinian state, “rather than in Israel,” thereby rejecting a “right of
return.” He called for a Palestinian state that is “viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.”
Sharon presented his disengagement plan as independent of but “not inconsistent with the Road
Map.” He said that the “temporary” security fence that Israel is constructing in the West Bank
would not prejudice final status issues including borders. A day before, he had identified five
large West Bank settlements and an area in Hebron that Israel intends to retain and strengthen.
Palestinians denounced the President’s “legitimization” of settlements and prejudgment of final
status. On April 18, Sharon’s chief of staff Dov Weissglas gave National Security Adviser 28
Condoleezza Rice a written commitment to dismantle illegal settlement outposts.

25 For text, see the Geneva Initiative website at
26 For text, see “Sharon Outlines Disengagement Plan from Palestinians in Herzliyya Speech, Parts 1 and 2, Voice of
Israel, December 18, 2003, Open Source Center Documents GMP20031218000215 and GMP200312180002167.
27 For text of letters, see Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at
28 For text, see

On June 6, Israel’s cabinet approved a compromise disengagement plan whereby Israel would
evacuate all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and 4 settlements in the northern West Bank. On
June 30, the Israeli High Court of Justice upheld the government’s right to build a security fence
in the West Bank, but struck down some land confiscation orders for violating Palestinian rights
and ordered the route to be changed. In subsequent rulings, the Israeli Court has attempted to
balance Israel’s security needs and the humanitarian claims of Palestinians and has sometimes
required that the barrier be rerouted. On July 9, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a 29
non-binding, advisory opinion that the wall violates international law.
On October 6, Weissglas claimed that disengagement was aimed at freezing the political process
in order to “prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and a debate regarding refugees, 30
borders, and Jerusalem.”
Yasir Arafat died on November 11. Mahmud Abbas became Chairman of the PLO and, on
January 9, 2005, was elected President of the PA. He called for implementing the Road Map
while beginning discussion of final status issues and cautioned against interim solutions to delay
reaching a comprehensive solution.
Secretary Rice visited Israel and the PA on February 7. She praised the Israelis’ “historic”
disengagement decision, discussed the need to carry out obligations concerning settlements and
outposts, and warned them not to undermine Abbas. She appointed Lt. Gen. William Ward as
Middle East Security Coordinator and emphasized the importance of Israeli-Palestinian security
cooperation for the disengagement. (Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton succeeded Ward in November


On February 20, Israel’s cabinet adopted a revised route for the security fence closer to the pre-
1967 border in some areas, taking about 7% to 8% of the West Bank that includes major
settlement blocs. On March 16, Israel transferred Jericho to the PA. On March 17, 13 Palestinian
groups agreed to extend a “calm” or informal truce until the end of the year. On March 21, Israeli
forces transferred Tulkarem to the PA.
On March 20, it was reported that Israel’s defense minister had approved the building of 3,500
new housing units between the Ma’ale Adumim settlement and East Jerusalem, in the E-1
corridor. Critics charge that the construction would cut East Jerusalem off from Palestinian
territory, impose a barrier between the northern and southern West Bank, and prevent a future
contiguous Palestinian state. Secretary Rice asserted that the plan was “at odds with American
policy.” On April 11, President Bush conveyed to Sharon his “concern that Israel not undertake
any activity that contravenes Road Map obligations or prejudices final status negotiations.”
Sharon responded, “It is the position of Israel that the major Israeli population centers will remain
in Israel’s hands under any final status agreement,” declared that Ma’ale Adumim is a major
population center, and, therefore, Israel is interested in contiguity between it and Jerusalem.
On May 26, President Bush met Abbas and said that “changes to the 1949 armistice lines must be
mutually agreed to.” Bush reaffirmed, “A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity of the
West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful

29 For text, see Note, Israel refers to the barrier as a “fence” and the Palestinians and other critics
refer to it as a “wall.” Neutral observers often use the word “barrier.
30 Interview by Ari Shavit, “The Big Freeze,Haaretz, October 8, 2004, FBIS Document GMP20041008000026.

linkages between the West Bank and Gaza. This is the position of the United States today, it will
be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations.” He also said, “The
barrier being erected by Israel ... must be a security, rather than political, barrier.” Abbas stated
that the boundaries of a future state should be those of before the 1967 war and that “there is no
justification for the wall and it is illegitimate.”
Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Netanya on July 12,
killing 5 and injuring more than 90. Israeli forces launched operations against the PIJ, reoccupied
Tulkarem, and closed the West Bank. Meanwhile, Hamas increased rocket and mortar fire against
settlements in Gaza and towns in southern Israel in order to show that disengagement meant that
Hamas was forcing Israel to withdraw from the Strip.
On August 15, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Israel would keep the settlement blocs of
Ma’ale Adumim, the Etzyon Bloc, Efrat, Ari’el, Qedumim-Qarney Shomrom, and Rehan
Shaqed—all are within or expected to be on Israel’s side of the security barrier. Mofaz added that 31
Israel would retain the Jordan Rift Valley to guarantee Israel’s eastern border.
Israel evacuated all settlements in the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the northern West
Bank between August 17 and August 23. On August 29, Sharon declared that there would be no
further disengagements and that the next step must be negotiations under the Road Map. He noted
that while large settlement blocs would remain in Israeli hands and linked territorially to Israel,
not all West Bank settlements would remain, This would be decided in the final stage of
On September 27, Hamas claimed responsibility for kidnaping and killing an Israeli settler in the
West Bank. Israel responded with air and artillery strikes, closure of charities linked to terror
groups, mass arrests including likely Hamas candidates in Palestinian parliamentary elections,
and targeted killings of terrorists. On October 20, President Bush pressed Abbas to “confront the
threat armed gangs pose to a genuinely democratic Palestine,” but did not urge him to prevent
Hamas from participating in parliamentary elections or to request that candidates renounce
violence. Abbas said that they would be asked to renounce violence after election.
On October 26, a PIJ suicide bomber killed 6 and wounded more than 20 in Hadera, on the Israeli
coast. Sharon announced an offensive against terrorism. He ruled out talks with Abbas until
Abbas takes “serious action” against armed groups.
On November 14-15, Secretary Rice visited Israel and the PA. Sharon told her that Israel would
not interfere if Hamas participated in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, but
warned that if an armed terrorist organization is a partner in the Palestinian administration it
could lead to the end of the Road Map. Rice asserted that it would be easier to compel Hamas to
disarm after the elections because the entire international community would then exert pressure.
Rice vowed not to have contacts with an armed Hamas even if it were part of the Palestinian
administration. On November 15, she announced that Israel and the PA had reached an
Agreement on Movement and Access from the Gaza Strip.

Interview by Golan Yokhpaz, IDF Radio, August 15, 2005, FBIS Document GMP20050815621002.

On December 5, PIJ perpetrated another suicide bombing in Netanya. Israel barred Palestinians
from entering Israel for one week, arrested militants in the West Bank, began air strikes in Gaza,
and did not hold scheduled talks with the PA about West Bank-Gaza bus convoys foreseen in the
November 15 agreement.
After Hamas’s victories in December 2005 Palestinian municipal elections, speculation increased
about possible effects on the peace process if Hamas were similarly successful in January 25,
2006, parliamentary elections. On December 28, the Quartet stated that a future Palestinian
cabinet “should include no member who has not committed to the principles of Israel’s right to 32
exist in peace and security and an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism.” On January 11,
Secretary Rice declared, “It remains the view of the United States that there should be no place in
the political process for groups or individuals who refuse to renounce terror and violence,
recognize Israel’s right to exist, and disarm.”
On January 4, 2006, Prime Minister Sharon suffered an incapacitating stroke and Deputy Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert became Acting Prime Minister. On January 12, Olmert told President Bush
that peace efforts could not progress if Hamas joined the Palestinian government.
Hamas won the January 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections. It is a U.S.-designated Foreign
Terrorist Organization (FTO), claims the entire land of Palestine, including Israel, “from the
[Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea” as an Islamic trust, rejects the Oslo agreements of the

1990s, insists on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, and on the right to 33

“resistance,” which it claims forced Israel from the Gaza Strip. Olmert declared that Israel
would not negotiate with a Palestinian administration that included an armed terrorist
organization calling for its destruction and demanded that Hamas disarm, annul its Covenant that
calls for the destruction of Israel, and accept all prior agreements. President Bush stated that the
United States would not deal with a political party “that articulates the destruction of Israel as part
of its platform.”
On January 30, the Quartet stated that “future assistance to any new (Palestinian) government
would be reviewed by donors against the government’s commitment to the principles of non-
violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including 34
the Road Map.” Hamas countered that it would never recognize Israel, would consider
negotiating a “long-term truce” if Israel withdrew to its 1967 borders, released all prisoners,
destroyed all settlements, and recognized the Palestinian refugees’ right to return (to Israel), and
would create a state on “any inch” of Palestinian territory without ceding another.
On February 8, Olmert said that Israel was moving toward a separation from the Palestinians and
permanent borders that would include a united Jerusalem, major settlement blocs, and the Jordan
Valley. Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyah of Hamas declared, “Let them
withdraw. We will make the Authority stronger on every inch of liberated land....” Damascus-
based Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Khalid Mish’al said that his group would make no
concessions and would “practice resistance side by side with politics as long as the occupation

32 This and subsequent Quartet statements cited may be found at the State Department’s website:
For Hamas Covenant text, see
34 “UN: Statement by Middle East Quartet,” M2 Presswire, January 31, 2006.

After his Kadima party placed first in the March 28 Israeli parliamentary elections, Olmert said
that he aspired to demarcate permanent borders for a Jewish state with a permanent Jewish
majority and a democracy. He called for negotiations based on mutual recognition, agreements
already signed, the principles of the Road Map, a halt to violence, and the disarming of terrorist
organizations. Haniyah said that Hamas would not object to Abbas negotiating with Israel. In an
op-ed in (the British newspaper) The Guardian on March 31, Haniyah appealed for no more talk
about recognizing Israel’s “right to exist” or ending resistance until Israel commits to withdraw
from the Palestinians’ lands and recognizes their rights.
On April 9, the Israeli security cabinet recommended severing all ties with the Hamas-led PA,
which it called a “hostile entity.” Because it viewed the PA as “one authority and not as having
two heads,” the cabinet declared that there could be personal contacts, but not negotiations, with
President Abbas. On April 17, PIJ carried out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, killing 11 and
wounding 60, including an American teenager. Abbas condemned the attack as “despicable” and
counter to Palestinian interests, while Hamas officials called it an act of “self-defense.”
On April 26, Abbas called for an immediate international peace conference with himself as the
Palestinian negotiator. He claimed that the Hamas-led government was not an obstacle to
negotiations because the PLO, which he heads, had the mandate to negotiate as it had all previous
agreements. He also noted that he was empowered as the democratically elected leader of the
On May 4, a new Israeli government took office, with guidelines vowing to strive to shape the
permanent borders of the State of Israel as a democratic Jewish state, with a Jewish majority.
Prime Minister Olmert asserted that the security fence would be adapted to conform to the
borders in both east and west. The PLO rejected the Olmert plan as aimed at undermining the
Palestinian people’s right to a state on all territories occupied in 1967, with Jerusalem as its
On May 10, imprisoned Fatah, Hamas, and other officials drafted a “National Accord Document”
calling for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the right of the return of refugees, and
the release of all prisoners. It also called for renewing the PLO and for Hamas and PIJ to join it,
supported the right to resist the occupation in lands occupied in 1967, and stated that the PLO is
responsible for negotiations and that any agreement should be put to a vote by the Palestinian 35
National Council or a referendum. Abbas accepted the document, but Hamas rejected its implied
recognition of pre-1967 Israel.
On May 23, at the White House, President Bush accepted that Olmert’s ideas for removing Israeli
settlements could lead to a two-state solution if a pathway to progress on the Road Map is not
open in the period ahead. Olmert said that he had presented ideas for a “realignment” in the West
Bank to “reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians, ensure territorial contiguity for the 36
Palestinians, and guarantee Israel’s security as a Jewish state with the borders it desires.”

35 For text of a later, final version of the National Accord Document (also known as the Palestinian Prisonerss
Agreement), see Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department website
36 See for text of joint news conference.

Violence increased between Gaza and Israel. The Hamas military wing and other Palestinian
groups repeatedly launched rockets at Sderot in southern Israel, and Israel responded with
artillery fire and air strikes. On June 10, Hamas called off its 16-month truce in response to the
deaths of Palestinian civilians on a Gaza beach from Israeli artillery fire on June 9. Israel denied
responsibility for those deaths, but Israeli strikes caused other Palestinian civilian casualties as
On June 13, Olmert told a group of British parliamentarians that, even with negotiations, “Israel
will never agree to withdraw from the entire West Bank because the pre-1967 borders are not
defensible.” He asserted that Israel would withdraw from approximately 90% of the West Bank
and observed that not all of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods would be part of the future Jewish 37
On June 28, Palestinian factions agreed on a revised National Accord Document. The Document
stated that the PLO and the President of the PA will be responsible for negotiations to create a
state on territories occupied by Israel in 1967. It changed the May draft to say that, in tandem
with political action, resistance will be concentrated in (but not limited to) territories occupied in 38
1967. Signatories vowed to work toward establishing a national unity government. PIJ rejected
the Document, while Hamas officials insisted that it did not require them to recognize Israel or to
accept two states. Israel’s Foreign Ministry noted that the Document did not mention recognizing
Israel’s right to exist or ending the conflict with Israel and argued that the return of all refugees is 39
a formula for the destruction of Israel, contradicting a two-state solution.
On June 25, members of the Hamas military wing, the Popular Resistance Committees, and the
previously unknown Army of Islam had attacked Israeli forces in Israel, just outside of Gaza,
killing two soldiers, wounding four, and kidnaping Corporal Gilad Shalit. On June 27, after
unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to secure Shalit’s release, Israel forces began a major operation to
rescue him, to deter attacks, and to weaken, bring down, or change the conduct of the Hamas-led
government. Israeli officials claimed that Hamas had crossed a “red line” with the kidnaping and
attack within pre-1967 Israel.
On June 29, Israel forces arrested 64 Palestinian (Hamas) cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, and
other Hamas officials in the West Bank and Jerusalem. On July 1, the kidnapers demanded 1,000
prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier. The next day, Israeli missiles destroyed the offices of
the Palestinian Prime Minister. Israeli troops and tanks began sweeping northern Gaza to locate
tunnels and explosives near the border and continued targeting Hamas offices in the West Bank.
Hamas fired an upgraded rocket at the Israeli port city of Ashkelon prompting the Israeli cabinet
to approve “prolonged” activities against Hamas.
Diplomatic efforts were undertaken to resolve the crisis. On July 10, Hamas official Mish’al
insisted on the mutual release (“swap”) of prisoners. Olmert responded, “Trading prisoners with a
terrorist bloody organization such as Hamas is a major mistake that will cause a lot of damage to
the future of the State of Israel,” adding that to negotiate with Hamas would signal that moderates

37 Gil Hoffman, “Olmert Bids to Enlist Chirac Support for Realignment; PM tells British MPS: Israel Would Never
Agree to Withdraw to Pre-1967 Borders,Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2006.
38Text of National Consensus Document signed by the Palestinian factions, except the Islamic Jihad Movement,” Al-
Ayyam, Open Source Center Document GMP20060628253002.
39 For text of Foreign Ministry comments, see

such as President Abbas are not needed. The White House spokesman said that Hamas had been
“complicit in perpetrating violence” and that Israel had a right to defend itself.
Although sidelined by the kidnaping, President Abbas tried to assert his power. He said that the
National Accord Document would be implemented and discussed forming a national unity
government with Hamas officials. On September 11, Abbas and Haniyah agreed to form a
government. On September 21, Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly that any future Palestinian
government would commit to all prior agreements, particularly the September 1993 mutual 40
recognition of Israel and the PLO. Haniyah differed, declaring, “I personally will not head any
government that recognizes Israel.” Abbas concluded that efforts to form a unity government had
“gone back to point zero.”
On October 31, Israeli forces began a six-day incursion into Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza
Strip to stop Palestinian rocket fire; it resulted in heavy Palestinian casualties and did not stop
rockets. After it ended, on November 8, an errant Israeli artillery barrage killed 20 and wounded
many more, prompting international outcries. On November 25, Olmert and Abbas agreed to a
cease-fire in Gaza. Hamas said that it would respect the accord, but the Al Aqsa Martyrs’
Brigades and PIJ would not. The cease-fire nonetheless produced less rocket fire and shooting
along the border.
On November 27, Olmert said if the Palestinians established a new government committed to
carrying out the Quartet’s principles, one that will implement the Road Map and bring about the
release of the kidnaped soldier, then he would enter a dialogue with Abbas to establish an
independent, viable Palestinian state with territorial contiguity and borders outlined by President
Bush in his April 14, 2004, letter to Prime Minister Sharon. Olmert said that Israel would “free
many Palestinian prisoners, including ones sentenced to long prison terms,” upon the release of
the soldier, increase freedom of movement in the territories and across the borders, and release
Palestinian funds it had stopped transferring to the PA when Hamas took power. He emphasized
that Israel would agree “to evacuate many areas and settlements” in exchange for true peace, and
called on the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to live in peace and security alongside them
and renounce their demand for the right of return. Olmert also noted that “some parts of the 41
(2002) Saudi Peace Initiative are positive.”
Although Abbas could not meet Olmert’s preconditions, the Israeli government and Bush
Administration viewed him as the only partner for a peace process and took steps to bolster him
in his contest with Hamas for control of the PA. On December 23, Olmert promised to hand over
$100 million in tax revenue to Abbas for humanitarian purposes, to ease crossings of goods and
people between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and to remove some military checkpoints in the West 42
Bank. On January 5, 2007, Olmert asserted that Israel should deal with Palestinians who are
genuinely interested in peace and fight against radical forces. To that end, Israel had authorized

40 “‘UnofficialText of Palestinian Presidents Speech, Palestinian News Agency, September 22, 2006, BBC
Monitoring Middle East.
41 For text Olmert’s speech, see Israel’s MFA at
S p eech es+b y+Israel i +l ead ers/ 2 006 /P M +Ol mert +rea ch es+o u t +t o +P al est i n i an s +at +Ben -Gu r i o n +me mo ri al +2 7 - No v-
2006.htm. For what Olmert called the “Saudi Peace Initiative, also called the “Beirut Declaration or “Arab Peace
Initiative, see
42 On January 19, Israel transferred the funds to a special account in an Israeli bank to ensure that the money did not
reach Hamas.

Egypt’s transfer of arms and ammunition to security forces allied with Abbas in Gaza in late
On January 9, the Egyptian Foreign Minister asserted that there is a common Egyptian, Jordanian,
Arab, and Palestinian position that an agreement on the “end game” is needed before resuming
the Road Map. Seeming to follow this line, Secretary Rice said that she would discuss “the broad
issues on the horizon, so that we can work on the Road Map” with Olmert and Abbas. (The
Administration reportedly had promised the “moderate” Arab regimes that it would become more
engaged in the peace process in exchange for their support in countering increased Iranian 43
influence in the region.)
On February 8, Abbas designated Haniyah to form a new unity government and called on him to
“respect international resolutions and agreements” signed by the PLO, that is, prior accords
reached with Israel (italics added because it is not accept). Abbas’s letter of designation resulted
from the Mecca Accord reached at a meeting of Abbas and Hamas Political Bureau Chief Mish’al
hosted by Saudi King Abdullah. The Accord aimed mainly to stop Palestinian factions’ infighting 44
and unite them in a new government; it did not refer to Israel or to the Quartet’s demands.
On February 19, Secretary Rice met Olmert and Abbas in Jerusalem to discuss the Mecca Accord.
Afterwards, Olmert said Israel would continue to boycott the Palestinian government until it met
the Quartet’s demands, ended rocket attacks from Gaza, and released Shalit. Israel would not
have contact with moderates in a government that does not meet the Quartet’s conditions, but
would maintain contact with Abbas in order to limit terror and ease Palestinian daily life. Olmert
rejected negotiating with Abbas as head of the PLO because doing so, he maintained, would free
Hamas of the requirement to recognize Israel. On March 11, Olmert and Abbas met in Jerusalem.
Olmert would only discuss quality-of-life issues. Palestinians described the meeting as “very
frank and very difficult.”
The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative was revived.45 Following his widely reported but officially
unconfirmed meeting with Saudi National Security Advisor Prince Bandar in September 2006, 46
Olmert noted in November that “some parts of the Saudi Peace Initiative are positive.” On
March 11, Olmert stated that the Saudi Initiative, on which the Arab Peace Initiative is based, is
“a plan that we are ready to address seriously” and has “positive elements.” Olmert expressed
hope that these elements would be strengthened at an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, on
March 28.
On March 15, a Palestinian unity government was formed, with a program confirming the
Palestinian people’s “legitimate” right of resistance, insisting that halting resistance depends on
ending the occupation, the right of refugees to return to their land and belongings, and
independence. The government asserted that it “respects” international resolutions and

43 Cam Simpson, “Dangerous Territory: With Aid, U.S. Widens Role in Palestinian Crisis; To Undercut Hamas And
Iran, Bush Pushes $86 Million Plan Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2007.
44 Text of the Mecca Accord was published on February 9, 2007.
45 For “Arab Peace Initiative,” see
46 It has been widely reported that Olmert met Saudi National Security Advisor Prince Bandar in September 2006 in
Jordan. Barbara Slavin, “Arabs try Outreach to Israel, U.S. Jews....” USA Today, February 12, 2007, quotes former
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Dani Ayalon confirming the meeting. For Olmert’s speech referring to the
Saudi peace initiative, see

agreements signed by the PLO. At the same time, it said that it would work to consolidate the
calm in Gaza, extend it to the West Bank, and transform it into a comprehensive and mutual truce.
On March 17, Prime Minister Haniyah vowed to work to establish an independent Palestinian 47
state, with Jerusalem as its capital, along the 1967 borders. Hamas said that it would not
recognize Israel’s right to exist alongside that state. The government program authorized
President Abbas to negotiate with Israel.
In response, the Israeli cabinet voted to shun all contact with the new Palestinian government
until it met the Quartet’s demands that it renounce violence, recognize Israel, and accept all prior
accords with Israel, and called on the international community to maintain the aid embargo. The
Bush Administration decided to deal with individuals in the PA government on a case-by-case
basis. On March 21, Secretary Rice asserted, “We will not suspend our contacts with those in the 48
Palestinian government who have a record of fighting for peace.” A State Department
spokesman said that the aid embargo would continue until the new government meets the
Quartet’s demands.
A summit of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, March 28-29, reiterated adherence, without changes,
to the Arab Peace Initiative and called for direct negotiations on all tracks. Abbas voted for the
Initiative, while Haniyah abstained. The Israeli Foreign Ministry stated, “Israel is sincerely
interested in pursuing dialogue with those Arab states that desire peace with Israel” in order to
promote a process of normalization.
In a March 30 interview, Prime Minister Olmert distinguished between the 2002 Saudi Initiative
and the Arab Initiative that superseded it. He noted that the Saudi Initiative did not refer to the 49
refugee problem and is more acceptable to Israel. Nonetheless, he welcomed the Arabs’
“revolutionary change in outlook” that represented “a new way of thinking, the willingness to
recognize Israel as an established fact and to debate the conditions of the future solution” and 50
invited all Arab heads of state, including the King of Saudi Arabia, to meet. On April 28, the
Arab League named a working group to present the Arab view to other countries, and the group
designated Egypt and Jordan to contact Israel. Israel expressed disappointment that League
members with no formal ties to Israel would not be involved, but a spokeswoman said that Israel
would be “happy to hear the ideas.”
In May, factional fighting in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas escalated. Later, six days of intense
infighting ended with Hamas in complete control of the Gaza Strip by June 14. President Abbas
declared a state of emergency, dissolved the unity government, dismissed Haniyah, and named
technocrat Salam Fayyad prime minister. Hamas claimed that the decrees were illegitimate and
that Haniyah is still head of government. Each side accused the other of perpetrating a coup and
Abbas rejected dialogue with Hamas. Secretary Rice endorsed Abbas’s actions.

47 Some commentators suggest that Hamas’s acceptance of a state withing the 1967 borders constitutes “implicit
recognition of Israel and that the demand for explicit recognition isunreasonable due to Israel’s continuing
occupation and failure to define its borders. Daoud Kuttab, “Obstacle or Opportunity? How the Palestinian Unity
Government Offers a Path to Peace,Washington Post, March 26, 2007.
48 “U.S. to Cut Palestinian Aid Package,Associated Press, March 22, 2007.
49Special Holiday Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert,” Ma’ariv, March 31, 2007, BBC Monitoring Middle
East, April 1, 2007.
50 “Israeli PM Offers Dialogue to Arabs,” Associated Press, April 2, 2007.

On June 18, President Bush told Abbas that he was open to restarting peace talks to stabilize the
situation. Israeli officials asserted that the elimination of Hamas from the Palestinian government
opened “new possibilities for cooperation” and a diplomatic process. On June 25, Olmert, Abbas,
Egypt’s President Mubarak, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II met in Sharm al Shaykh, Egypt. Abbas
called on Olmert to start serious negotiations to establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem
as its capital. He insisted that “the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip constitute one
geographical unit that cannot be split.” Olmert admitted that “there is an opportunity to renew the
peace process,” but only agreed to resume biweekly meetings with Abbas to create conditions
leading to discussions on a Palestinian state. Olmert said that he would release 250 Palestinian
prisoners, transfer tax revenues owed to the PA, resume security cooperation, and ease restrictions
on freedom of movement in the West Bank. On July 1, Israel transferred $118 million to the PA
and, on July 20, it released 256 prisoners. Israel also granted clemency to 178 members of the Al
Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades who turned in their weapons and were to be integrated into the
Palestinian security force, and Israeli troops scaled back operations aimed at other militants in the
West Bank.
On June 27, the Quartet announced the appointment of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
as their Representative to help the Palestinians build the institutions and economy of a viable state
in Gaza and the West Bank.
Olmert and Abbas met in Jerusalem on July 16. On July 25, Olmert confirmed that they would
work on an “agreement on principles” to include the characteristics of a state, its official
institutions, its economy, and customs arrangements with Israel. Olmert favored leaving “final
status” issues for the end of negotiations. Abbas preferred putting the “end game” first: a
Palestinian state within 1967 borders, the status of Jerusalem, and the fate of refugees, and
implementation afterwards. Olmert warned Abbas that a revived Fatah-Hamas unity government
would end the diplomatic process.
New Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad presented his government’s program on July 27. It states
that the government will seek to establish a state on all lands occupied by Israel in 1967, with
Jerusalem as its capital and a just and agreed solution for Palestinian refugees, but does not refer 51
to armed struggle or resistance, rather to “popular struggle against the Israeli occupation.”
The Bush Administration has tried to show the Palestinian people that they have a choice
“between the kind of chaos under Hamas in Gaza and the prospect, under President Abbas and
Prime Minister Fayyad, for an effective, democratic Palestinian state,” according to National 52
Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. On July 16, President Bush condemned Hamas as “devoted to
extremism and murder” and promised to support the reforms of Abbas and Fayyad in order to lay
the foundations for serious negotiations for a Palestinian state. The President called for an
“international meeting this fall of representatives from nations that support a two-state solution,
reject violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between 53
the parties.”

51 Program of Fayyads Government, Ma’an News Agency, July 27, 2007, BBC Monitoring Middle East, July 28,
52 Statement on “This Week television show, July 15, 2007, quoted in Robin Wright, “U.S. Bet on Abbas for Middle
East Peace Meets Skepticism,Washington Post, July 16, 2007.
For Presidents speech, see

Olmert and Abbas worked for several months on principles to present to a U.S.-initiated
international meeting in Annapolis, MD, on November 27, 2007. Abbas pressed for a framework
for a substantive agreement on “core issues,” formerly referred to as “final status issues,” as well
as for a timetable for implementation, mechanisms for implementation, and monitoring. At first,
Olmert emphasized day-to-day issues, but then agreed to discuss core issues, while retaining his
desire for a vague declaration without a timetable that would enable him to hold his coalition
government together. On September 10, Olmert and Abbas agreed to set up negotiating teams for
a two-state solution and ministerial committees to work on security, communications, economic
cooperation, water rights, environmental issues, and the like, and later appointed Foreign Minister
Tzipi Livni and former Prime Minister Ahmad Quray (aka Abu Ala) to head the teams.
Secretary Rice described Annapolis as a meeting at which regional actors and the international
community would rally around a bilateral vision of a two-state solution as well as help support 54
the development of Palestinian institutions, economic development, and so forth. Rice excluded
Hamas from the process, saying “If you’re going to have a two-state solution, you have to accept
the right of the other party to exist ... you’re going to have to renounce violence.”
On September 24, Olmert described Annapolis as a “short international meeting intended to give
international encouragement to the process that we initiated with the Palestinians.” He said that
the goal was to increase support for Abbas and deepen Israel’s ties with moderate Arab countries.
Nonetheless, on October 15, Olmert suggested that it is legitimate to question whether Israel
should retain outlying Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem, seeming to prepare the Israeli
public for concessions and raising the politically sensitive question of “dividing” Jerusalem,
which many Israelis and other Jews refer to as their “eternal, undivided capital.” On November
12, Olmert told his cabinet that he did not view a freeze on all building on the West Bank to be
part of the Road Map’s requirements, but that Israel would not build new settlements or 55
expropriate land and would raze illegal outposts. This appeared to conform to Israel’s policy on
so-called “natural growth,” whereby settlers would be allowed to build within the borders of
existing settlements. The Palestinians demand a 100% settlement freeze, including ending natural
growth, and others in the international community agree with this stance.
At the Annapolis Conference on November 27, President Bush read a “Joint Understanding” that 56
dealt with the process of negotiations, not their substance. In it, Olmert and Abbas express
determination to “immediately launch bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty to
resolve all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements.” They agree to
engage in continuous bilateral negotiations in an effort to conclude an agreement before the end
of 2008. Abbas and Olmert would meet biweekly to follow and assist the negotiations. The
parties also commit to immediately implementing their respective obligations under the Road
Map. The parties further commit to continue implementing the Road Map until they reach a peace
treaty. Implementation of the future peace treaty will be subject to the implementation of the
Road Map, as judged by the United States. The United States will monitor and judge fulfillment
of Road Map commitments and lead a tripartite U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian mechanism to follow up
on implementation.

54 FM Livnis Press Conference with US Secretary of State Rice, (Israeli) Government Press Office, October 18, 2007,
Open Source Center Document GMP20071018738002.
55 Noam Shelef, Peace Now, informed CRS on January 30, 2008, that there are 105 illegal outposts.
56 For text, see For more on the conference,
seeCRS Report RS22768, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process: The Annapolis Conference, by Carol Migdalovitz.

Also at Annapolis, Abbas called for resolving the refugee issue in accordance with U.N. General
Assembly Resolution 194 and for negotiations on final status issues to be supported by a halt to
all settlement activity, including natural growth, reopening closed Palestinian institutions in
Jerusalem, removing settlement enclaves, lifting roadblocks, releasing prisoners, and facilitating
the tasks of the PA in imposing law and order. He said that the Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as
their capital. Abbas claimed that ending the occupation will eradicate the greatest excuse for 57
terrorism. Olmert asserted that Israel would base its positions not just on U.N. Security Council
Resolutions 242 and 338, and the Road Map, but on President Bush’s April 14, 2004 letter to 58
former Prime Minister Sharon.
Both sides were able to appear successful at Annapolis. Israel succeeded in making
implementation of any peace treaty dependent upon implementation of the Road Map and in
avoiding a rigid timetable and deadline. Israelis also were pleased that President Bush called for
Israel to be a homeland for the Jewish people, which the Palestinians have been reluctant to
acknowledge because of its possible effect on the refugee issue, and for ending settlement 59
expansion, but not for a freeze. Palestinians were able to remove Road Map implementation as a
precondition for final status negotiations, obtained a one-year target date, and involved United
States as “judge” of the parties’ fulfillment of their commitments. Deposed Palestinian Prime
Minister Haniyah asserted that any concessions made by the Palestinian delegation at Annapolis
would not be binding on the Palestinian people.
General James L. Jones (Ret.) was named special envoy for Middle East security to oversee the
full range of security issues for the Israelis and Palestinians and security cooperation with
neighboring countries. He was tasked to design and implement a new U.S. plan for security
assistance to the PA, and not to monitor compliance with the Road Map nor to replace Lt. Gen.
Keith Dayton, the U.S. Middle East Security Coordinator, who has been assisting the Palestinians
with improving their security forces. Gen. Jones is based in Washington and continues his full
time employment at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
On December 2, Israel published tenders for the construction of 307 new housing units in the
settlement of Har Homa (Jabal abu Ghneim) in East Jerusalem. Israel maintained that, unlike the
West Bank, Jerusalem is not part of the requirements of the Road Map, and that Israel would
retain Har Homa in any peace accord. The PA condemned the decision and Secretary Rice
criticized it, asserting, “We are in a time when the goal is to build maximum confidence with the
parties and this doesn’t help build confidence.... There should not be anything which might 60
prejudge final status negotiations.” Formal peace talks began on December 12. Because of the
controversy over Har Homa, they were brief, with the Palestinians demanding a complete halt to
settlement building and the Israelis raising concerns about rocket attacks from Gaza.

57 Text of speech: “PA President Delivers Address at Annapolis, Stresses Commitment to Peace,” Palestine Satellite
Chanel Television, November 27, 2007, Open Source Center Document GMP20071127748002.
58 Text of speech: “PM Olmert Says in Annapolis Israel Ready for ‘Painful Compromises’ for Peace,” Israel Television
Channel 1, November 27, 2007, Open Source Center Document GMP20071127736005. For text of President Bushs
2004 letter, see Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at
59 For text of President Bushs remarks, see
60James Blitz and Tobias Buck, “Israelis Criticized Over Plan to Build on Occupied Land,” Financial Times,
December 8, 2007.

On December 30, 2007, Prime Minister Olmert directed his ministers to seek authorization from
him and Defense Minister Barak for “construction, new building, expansion, preparation of plans,
publication of residency tenders, and confiscation of land stemming from settlement activities in 61
the West Bank.” The order does not apply to construction that has already been approved, to
Jerusalem, or major settlement blocs. On February 12, 2008, the Israeli Housing Minister
unveiled plans to build 1,120 new apartments in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians, who claim East
Jerusalem as their future capital, condemned the action and again called for an end to all Israeli
settlement activity.
Before President Bush’s January 2008 visit to the Middle East, National Security Advisor Stephen
J. Hadley summarized three tracks to build an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace. One is
negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians for an outline of an agreement for a Palestinian
state; the second is the implementation of the Road Map; and the third is building the institutions
of a Palestinian state. Later Hadley would say that implementation of the Road Map and standing 62
up the institutions of a state may take longer than negotiating the outlines of a state.
On January 9-10, President Bush visited Israel and the PA. On January 10, the President said that
he believed that any peace agreement “will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice
lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and
contiguous.” He added that he believed that new international mechanisms, including
compensation, are needed to resolve the refugee issue. He observed that Jerusalem is “one of the 63
most difficult challenges on the road to peace,” but did not offer a remedy. Mr. Hadley
emphasized the importance of a vision of a Palestinian state and moving toward it so that, at a
“moment of clarity,” the Palestinian people will choose whether they want to be part of an
emerging state or under the rule of Hamas.
Olmert emphasized that “as long as there will be terror from Gaza it will be very, very hard to 64
reach any peaceful understanding between us and the Palestinians.” He voiced opposition to
establishing two Palestinian states—a Hamas state in the Gaza Strip and a Fatah state in the West 65
On January 3, Palestinian militants fired a Katyusha rocket with a longer range than usual from
Gaza into northern Ashkelon, an Israeli coastal city. Israeli officials said that it was the deepest
strike yet and that the rocket had been made in Iran. On January 15, Israeli forces killed 19
Palestinians, including three civilians, in operations in Gaza. The son of Hamas official Mahmud
al Zahhar was among the dead. President Abbas denounced the raids as “a massacre,” and, for the
first time in seven months, Hamas took credit for launching rockets into Israel.
On January 17, in an effort to pressure Hamas to stop the rocket fire, Defense Minister Barak
ordered the closing of border crossings from Israel into Gaza, halting supplies of fuel, leading to a
major cut in electricity production from the Gaza power plant which affected water and sewage

61 Barak Ravid, “PM: No West Bank Construction without my Prior Approval,, December 31,
62 Hadleys January 3 and 10, 2008, briefings are available at
63 Steven Lee Myers, “Bush Outlines Mideast Peace Plan,” New York Times, January 11, 2008.
64 Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert in Joint Press Availability, January 9, 2008,
65 Shahar Ilan, “Olmert Rules Out Gaza Ground Operation, Haaretz, January 15, 2008.

systems, hospitals, and food deliveries. Electricity deliveries from Egypt and Israel continued,
and Israel said it would provide for emergency humanitarian needs. There was widespread
international condemnation of Israel’s action and Hamas vowed not to stop firing rockets.
On January 23, tens of thousands of Palestinians poured out of Gaza into Egypt after Hamas
militants blew holes in the border wall. Israeli officials expressed concern that more weapons
would enter the Strip and called on Egypt to reestablish control over the border. According to the
Egyptian foreign minister, his country wanted to reinstate prior arrangements at the Rafah
crossing established under a 2005 agreement among Israel, Egypt, the PA, and the European
Union (EU). Abbas offered to deploy his Presidential Guards to the border, but Hamas, which is
physically in control of the Palestinian side of the border, insisted on participating in a new, 66
purely Palestinian-Egyptian arrangement without an Israeli presence. Abbas continued to rule
out talks with Hamas until Hamas gives up control of Gaza and accepts early elections. Egypt
refused to cede control of the crossing to Hamas and resealed the border on February 3.
A suicide bombing killed one and injured 23 in the Israeli town of Dimona on February 4. The
Hamas military wing took credit and named perpetrators from the West Bank, thereby intending
to refute Israeli allegations that the bombers had crossed from Gaza into Egypt when the border
crossing opened and then infiltrated from Egypt into Israel. It was the first suicide bombing in 67
Israel in more than a year. Israel retaliated with air strikes that killed nine Hamas militants.
On February 13, Olmert suggested that, in order to avoid an impasse, it might be best to begin
negotiating over borders rather than Jerusalem or refugees. On borders, he said, there are prior
understandings and President Bush’s April 14, 2004-letter to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
to offer direction. Controversially, Olmert claimed an understanding with the Palestinians to delay 68
talks on Jerusalem until the end of negotiations. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat responded,
“The border issue cannot advance without addressing Jerusalem’s borders.” Meanwhile, Foreign
Minister Livni said that the talks were proceeding according the principle that “until everything is 69
agreed on—nothing is agreed on.”
On January 24, the first battalion of approximately 700 Palestinian security forces crossed into
Jordan to begin U.S. training for a new gendarmerie that is projected to eventually be 50,000
strong. The effort is central to U.S./PA plans to build institutions for an eventual Palestinian state.
Violence continued. On March 6, an Arab resident of East Jerusalem killed eight students and
wounded nine at a rabbinical seminary in West Jerusalem before an Israeli army officer killed
him. A previously unknown group, the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyah (an Hezbollah operative
killed in Damascus in February), claimed responsibility, although police attributed the attack to a
lone gunman. Hamas “blessed the operation,” while President Abbas condemned it.
Several Palestinian groups, including the Hamas military wing, claimed responsibility for a sniper
attack near the Israel-Gaza border that wounded an aide to Israeli Public Security Minister Avi

66 Joel Greenberg, “Egypt Works to Restore Breached Gaza Border, McClatchy-Tribune Service, January 27, 2008.
67 Isabel Kershner and Taghreed El-Khodary, “Hamas Says Military Wing is Responsible for Bombing, New York
Times, February 6, 2008.
Barak Ravid and Shmuel Rosner, “Olmert: Significant Progress Possible on Borders of Palestinian State,Haaretz,
February 13, 2008.
69 Akiva Eldar, “Israel, PA Negotiators Oppose PM’s Bid to Delay Talks on Jerusalem, Haaretz, February 15, 2008.

Dichter on April 4. On April 9, Palestinian gunmen killed two Israeli civilian employees at the
Nahal Oz fuel depot, from which fuel is piped into Gaza. Israeli forces killed two of the
perpetrators and an Israeli tank fired at two others, but killed three civilians and others. Israel
suspended fuel shipments to Gaza and, later in the week, Israeli missiles struck a Hamas training
site, killing two. On April 16, Hamas claimed responsibility for ambushing and killing three
Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip as well as the firing of more than 20 rockets into southern Israel;
Israeli retaliatory strikes, including missiles, killed 19 Palestinians.
The Hamas military wing claimed responsibility for an April 19th suicide car bombing and mortar
ambush at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza in which 13 Israeli soldiers were
injured and the Palestinian perpetrators died. Israel retaliated with three airstrikes, killing seven
Hamas militants.
Five Palestinian groups claimed responsibility for killing two Israeli security guards in Tulkarem
on the West Bank on April 25. Israel suspected that PIJ was responsible. On April 28, an Israeli
operation against militants resulted in the deaths of a Palestinian mother and four children and the
wounding of two other children. Palestinians charged that an Israeli tank shell or missile had
struck the home, but an Israeli investigation suggested that they were the victims of explosions
caused by Palestinian ammunition and not by a direct Israeli hit.
As President Bush arrived in Israel to help celebrate its 60th anniversary on May 14, a rocket
landed on a shopping mall in Ashkelon, injuring more than 30 people. PIJ and the Popular
Resistance Committees claimed responsibility.
Although the two sides agreed not to make public statements about the status of their negotiations
and generally have kept this agreement, their officials have occasionally made remarks. On
February 26, Abbas reported that committees on core (or final status) issues of water, borders,
settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, and security had been formed. On April 18, Olmert maintained
that no great gaps exist between him and Abbas “with the exception of the subject of Jerusalem, 70
which from the outset and by agreement was deferred to a later stage.” Olmert’s comment about
Jerusalem probably was made for domestic consumption as one of his coalition partners has
threatened to and could bring down his government if Jerusalem becomes a subject for
negotiations. On May 6, the PLO Executive Committee (which Abbas chairs) claimed that the 71
gap between the two sides is “very wide” on all final status issues.
On May 14, Olmert spoke of the need to reach an “understanding” that would define the
parameters of a two-state solution, mentioning only the issues of borders, refugees, and security,
and suggesting that the understanding would only include “a framework for how to deal later with
the issue of Jerusalem.” This would change the approach of nothing is agreed until everything is 72
On June 4, President Abbas called on Hamas to join “a national and comprehensive dialogue” and
offered early presidential and parliamentary elections if the talks succeed. He did not mention his
previous precondition that Hamas give up control of Gaza before such talks. Abbas’s frustrations

70 David Landau and Yosi Verter, “An Island of Political Stability,” Haaretz, April 18, 2008.
71PLO Executive Committee Denies Progress made in Negotiations with Israel,” Palestine News Agency Wafa
Website, May 6, 2008, BBC Monitoring Middle East, May 7, 2008.
72 Herb Keinon,PM Touts Plan that Postpones J’lem Talks,Jerusalem Post, May 15, 2008.

with Israel’s plans to expand settlements in East Jerusalem, which he specifically mentioned in
his address, as well as his possible perception of insufficient progress in the peace talks may have 73
prompted his opening to Hamas. Alternatively, it is widely recognized that Abbas could not gain
acceptance of or implement an accord with Israel without Hamas’s concurrence and he had acted
toward that goal. Abbas appeared to back off from this outreach after Hamas’s Political Bureau
Chairman Mish’al doubted Abbas’s ability to commit himself to the results of a dialogue due to
U.S. influence.
The United States encouraged Egypt’s efforts to achieve a tahdiyah (temporary truce, cease-fire,
or calm) between Israel and Hamas. Egyptian General Omar Suleiman (alt: Umar Sulayman),
who is in charge of intelligence services, mediated indirect talks. The issues involved were
Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel, Israel’s military operations in the Gaza
Strip and West Bank and its blockade of Gaza; the border crossing at Rafah between Gaza and
Egypt; Hamas’s release of kidnaped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit; and Israel’s release of Palestinian
prisoners. A cease-fire to last for six months finally took effect on June 19. Hamas maintains,
credibly thus far, that Shalit is not part of the accord and that separate talks on a prisoner
exchange continue, while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insists that “Shalit’s release is
inseparable from the understandings reached in the terms for calm.” Hamas keeps increasing the
number of Palestinian prisoners whose release it demands in the prisoner exchange and those
negotiations appear stalled.
On June 24, in the first breach of the truce, the PIJ fired three rockets into Israel after Israeli
troops killed a PIJ leader in Nablus on the West Bank; Israel responded by closing the
commercial crossings into Gaza. That pattern has continued, with smaller Palestinian terrorist
groups, but not Hamas, firing rockets and Israel responding with short-term closures of the
On July 24, the Israeli Defense Ministry approved the construction of 22 new homes in Maskiot,
in the Jordan Valley of the West Bank near the border with Jordan, ending a freeze that had been
in effect since January 2007. Some of the homes are intended for settlers evacuated from the Gaza
Strip. Palestinian officials condemned the move, while the White House stated that “it 74
undermines confidence across the board.” The Israeli Interior Ministry reported that the number
of settlers in the West Bank rose by 15,000 in 2007. The non-governmental Peace Now
organization reported that 2,600 new housing units for Israelis are under construction and that 75
construction is 80% more than last year, while building in East Jerusalem also is intensive.
On July 25, Secretary Rice said that there was still time for Israel and the Palestinians to “reach 76
agreement by the end of the year and we’ll keep working toward that goal.” However, on July
28, Prime Minister Olmert told a Knesset committee that it was impossible to reach a
comprehensive agreement with the PA this year due to difficult negotiations on Jerusalem and
stated that there were no ongoing negotiations about the city. He added that an agreement on

73 Statements of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah, Palestine Satellite Channel Television, June 4,
2008, Open Source Center Document GMP20080604751005, Richard Boudreaux,Abbas Willing to Negotiate with
Political Rival Hamas,” Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2008.
74 “US Still Pushing for Mideast Peace Deal: White House,” Agence France Presse, July 28, 2008.
75 Settlement Watch Team, “Israel is Eliminating the Green Line and Continuing to Build in the Isolated Settlements,”
August 2008, accessible via
76 “Rice Says Israelis, Palestinians Can Still Reach Peace Deal this Year,” Daily Star, July 26, 2008.

other issues was within reach and that a clause defining a mechanism for dealing with Jerusalem
in 2009 could be included. A spokesman for President Abbas again responded that any agreement
that excludes Jerusalem is unacceptable. Later, on August 21, Palestinian negotiator Quray stated,
“I don’t think that a peace agreement can be reached by the end of this year because of the
difficulties the negotiations face and also because of the internal Israeli political crisis.”
On August 12, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published what it said was the latest Israeli proposal
for a final-status agreement. The offer called for Israel to withdraw from 93% of the West Bank
and give Palestinians land equivalent to 5.5% of the West Bank in the Negev adjacent to the Gaza
Strip to compensate for the less than 100% Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Israel would
keep the major settlement blocs, settlements surrounding Jerusalem, and some land in the
northern West Bank bordering Israel. Israel would immediately receive the settlement blocs, but
the PA would receive the land near Gaza and free passage between Gaza and the West Bank only
after it retakes control of Gaza. Other settlements in the West Bank would be evacuated in two
stages. After an agreement in principle, a voluntary relocation of settlers, with compensation,
would be implemented. Israel would remove the remaining (est. 70,000 to 80,000) settlers when
the Palestinians are capable of carrying out the entire agreement. Israel also wants the Palestinian
state to be demilitarized and only accepts a Palestinian (refugee) “right of return” to the
Palestinian state. The proposal does not deal with Jerusalem. Haaretz also reported that a
Palestinian proposal called for a smaller land swap of about 2% of the West Bank and for Israel to 77
annex only a few settlements.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat dismissed the Haaretz report as “half-truths,” stating that the
Palestinians were unaware of such a proposal and would not accept a solution that excludes
Jerusalem and the “right of return.” President Abbas’s spokesman stressed that the Palestinians
would not accept anything less that a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity, Jerusalem as its 78
capital, free of settlements, and on the June 4, 1967 borders. Quray declared that “these leaks 79
are untrue and were never put on the negotiating table.” Olmert’s spokesman merely said that
progress had been made in negotiations on borders. Abbas and Palestinian negotiators oppose
interim or partial agreements and insist that there will be a comprehensive agreement on
everything or no agreement at all.
Syria seeks to regain sovereignty over the Golan Heights, 450 square miles of land along the
border that Israel seized in 1967. Israel applied its law and administration to the region in
December 1981, an act other governments do not recognize. Approximately 20,000 Israeli settlers
reside in 33 settlements on the Golan. In 1991, Syria referred to its goal in the peace conference
as an end to the state of belligerency, not a peace treaty, preferred a comprehensive Arab-Israeli
peace, and rejected separate agreements between Israel and Arab states. Israel emphasized peace,
defined as open borders, diplomatic, cultural, and commercial relations, security, and access to
water resources.

77 Aluf Benn, “Olmert to PA: We’ll Quit West Bank when you Retake Gaza,”, August 12,
78 “Israel Must Withdraw to 1967 Borders for Peace,” Al-Jazeera TV, August 12, 2008,PA Presidential Spokesman
Rejects Olmert Final Status Draft reported in Haaretz,” WAFA, August 12, 2008, Open Source Center Document,
79 Interview with Al-Watan, August 20, 2008, Open Source Center Document GMP20008080820837003.

In 1992, Israel agreed that U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (after the 1967 war) applies to
all fronts, meaning that it includes the Golan. Syria submitted a draft declaration of principles,
reportedly referring to a “peace agreement,” not simply an end to belligerency. Israeli Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin accepted an undefined withdrawal on the Golan, pending Syria’s
definition of “peace.” On September 23, 1992, the Syrian Foreign Minister promised “total peace
in exchange for total withdrawal.” Israel offered “withdrawal.” In 1993, Syrian President Hafez al
Asad announced interest in peace and suggested that bilateral tracks might progress at different
speeds. In June, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said that the United States might be
willing to guarantee security arrangements in the context of a sound agreement on the Golan.
On January 16, 1994, President Clinton reported that Asad had told him that Syria was ready to
talk about “normal peaceful relations” with Israel. The sides inched toward each other on a
withdrawal and normalization timetable. Asad again told President Clinton on October 27 that he
was committed to normal peaceful relations in return for full withdrawal. Asad never expressed
his ideas publicly, leaving it to his interlocutors to convey them.
On May 24, 1994, Israel and Syria announced terms of reference for military talks under U.S.
auspices. Syria reportedly conceded that demilitarized and thinned-out zones may take
topographical features into account and be unequal, if security arrangements were equal. Israel
offered Syria an early-warning ground station in northern Israel in exchange for Israeli stations on
the Golan Heights, but Syria insisted instead on aerial surveillance only and that each country
monitor the other from its own territory and receive U.S. satellite photographs. It was proposed
that Syria demilitarize 6 miles for every 3.6 miles Israel demilitarizes. Rabin insisted that Israeli
troops stay on the Golan after its return to Syria. Syria said that this would infringe on its
sovereignty, but Syrian government-controlled media accepted international or friendly forces in
the stations. Talks resumed at the Wye Plantation in Maryland in December 1995, but were
suspended when Israeli negotiators went home after terrorist attacks in February/March 1996.
A new Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for negotiations, but
said that the Golan is essential to Israel’s security and water needs and that retaining Israeli
sovereignty over the Golan would be the basis for an arrangement with Syria. Asad would not
agree to talks unless Israel honored prior understandings, claiming that Rabin had promised total
withdrawal to the June 4, 1967-border, which gives Syria access to the northern shore of the Sea
of Galilee (also known as Lake Tiberias or Lake Kinneret). That border differs from the
international border of 1923 and the armistice line of 1949, which Damascus views as the results 80
of colonialist or imperialist decisions. Israeli negotiators say that Rabin had suggested possible
full withdrawal if Syria met Israel’s security and normalization needs, which Syria did not do. An
Israeli law passed on January 26, 1999 requires a 61-member majority in the Knesset (parliament)
and a national referendum to approve the return of any part of the Golan Heights. However,
holding a referendum would depend on a passage of a Basic Law for Public Referenda, which has
not been accomplished.
In June 1999, Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak and Asad exchanged compliments via a
British writer. Israel and Syria later agreed to restart talks from “the point where they left off,”
with each side defining the point to its satisfaction. Barak and the Syrian Foreign Minister met in
Washington on December 15-16, 1999, and in Shepherdstown, WV, from January 3-10, 2000.
President Clinton intervened. On January 7, a reported U.S. summary revealed Israeli success in

80 Shlomo Avineri, “Only the June 4, 1967 Lines,, August 6, 2008.

delaying discussion of borders and winning concessions on normal relations and an early-warning
station. Reportedly because of Syrian anger over this leak, talks scheduled to resume on January

19, 2000 were “postponed indefinitely.”

On March 26, President Clinton met Asad in Geneva. A White House spokesman reported
“significant differences remain” and that it would not be productive for talks to resume. Barak
indicated that disagreements centered on Israel’s reluctance to withdraw to the June 1967 border
and cede access to the Sea of Galilee, on security arrangements, and on the early-warning station.
Syria agreed that the border/Sea issue had been the main obstacle. Asad died on June 10; his son,
Bashar, succeeded him. Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister of Israel in February 2001 and
vowed to retain the Golan. In a December 1 New York Times interview, Bashar al Asad said that
he was ready to resume negotiations from where they broke off. Sharon responded that Syria first 81
must stop supporting Hezbollah and Palestinian terror organizations.
On August 29, 2005, Sharon said that it was not the time to begin negotiations with Syria because
it is collaborating with Iran, building up Hezbollah, and maintaining Palestinian terrorist
organizations’ headquarters in Damascus from which terrorist attacks against Israel are ordered.
Moreover, he observed that there was no reason for Israel to relieve the pressure that France and
the United States were putting on Syria (over its alleged complicity in the February 2005
assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri).
On June 28, 2006, Israeli warplanes caused sonic booms over President Asad’s summer residence
in Latakia to warn him to discontinue support for the Damascus-based head of the Hamas
political bureau, Khalid Mish’al, whom Israel considered responsible for a June 25 attack in
Israel, and for other Palestinian terrorists. On July 3, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem
denied that Mish’al had a role in the attack and said that Syria would never force him to leave the
In a speech on August 15 to mark the end of the war in Lebanon, President Asad declared that the 82
peace process had failed since its inception and that he did not expect peace in the near future.
Subsequently, he said that Shib’a Farms (an area near where the Israeli, Syrian, and Lebanese
borders meet) are Lebanese, but that the border between Lebanon and Syria there cannot be 83
demarcated as long as it is occupied by Israel. The priority, he said, must be liberation.
Responding to speculation about reopening peace talks with Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert
said on August 21 that Syria must stop supporting terrorist organizations before negotiations
resume. In September, he declared, “As long as I am prime minister, the Golan Heights will 84
remain in our hands because it is an integral part of the State of Israel.” He also indicated that he
did not want to differ from the Bush Administration, which views Syria as a supporter of terror
that should not be rewarded. On November 28, U.S. National Security Advisor Hadley concurred
that as long as Syria is “a supporter of terror, is both provisioning and supporting Hezbollah and

81 See alsoCRS Report RL33487, Syria: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jeremy M. Sharp.
82 For text of speech, see “Syria’s Asad Addresses ‘New Middle East, Arab ‘Failure’ to Secure Peace,” Syrian Arab
Television TV1, Open Source Center Document GMP200608156070001.
83 In interview by Hamdi Qandil on Dubai TV, August 23, 2006, Open Source Center Document
84 “Olmert Tells Israeli Paper: Golan ‘An Integral Part of the State of Israel’,Yedi’ot Aharonot, September 26, 2006,
citing a Mishpaha newspaper interview, Open Source Center Document GMP20060926746002.

facilitating Iran in its efforts to support Hezbollah, and is supporting Hamas,” then it is “not on
the agenda to bring peace and security to the region.” Hadley agreed that you cannot talk about 85
negotiating with that Syria.
On December 6, the Iraq Study Group released a Report that included recommendations for
changing U.S. policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict because “Iraq cannot be addressed
effectively in isolation from other major regional issues.” It stated that the United States will not
be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it has a “renewed and sustained
commitment” to a comprehensive, negotiated peace on all fronts, including “direct talks with, by,
and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians (those who accept Israel’s right to exist), and
particularly Syria....” The Report recommended that Israel return the Golan Heights, with a U.S.
security guarantee that could include an international force on the border, including U.S. troops if
requested by both parties, in exchange for Syria’s taking actions regarding Lebanon and 86
Palestinian groups. Olmert rejected any linkage to the situation in Iraq and believed that
President Bush shared his view.
In December, Asad and his Foreign Minister expressed interest in unconditional negotiations with
Israel. Their statements deepened a debate in Israel over Syria’s intentions. Olmert was skeptical
of Asad’s motives and demanded that Syria first end support for Hamas and Hezbollah and sever 87
ties with Iran. On January 17, 2007, Secretary Rice asserted that “this isn’t the time to engage
Syria,” blaming Damascus for allowing terrorists to cross its territory to enter Iraq, failing to
support Palestinians who believe in peace with Israel, and trying to bring down the Lebanese 88
On May 4, on the sidelines of a meeting on Iraq in Egypt, Secretary Rice met Foreign Minister
Muallem. U.S. officials said that the meeting focused exclusively on Iraq. Some Israeli observers
asked why Israelis should not have contacts with Syrians if U.S. officials could do so. On June 8,
Israeli officials confirmed that Israel had sent messages to Syria signaling willingness to engage
in talks based on the principle of land for peace and attempting to discern whether Damascus
might be willing to gradually end its relations with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas in exchange.
In a July 10 interview, Olmert said that he was willing to discuss peace with Asad, but
complained that the Syrian only wants negotiations to be conducted via Americans, who do not 89
want to talk to him. On July 17, Asad called on Israel to make an “unambiguous and official
announcement” about its desire for peace and “offer guarantees about the return of the land in
full,” opening “channels via a third party, but not direct negotiations.” This, he said, would lead to
direct talks in the presence of an “honest broker.” Those talks would be on security arrangements
and relations, and not land. Asad asserted that he cannot negotiate with Israel because “we do not 90
trust them.” On July 20, Olmert called on Asad to drop preconditions which Israel cannot

85 Shmuel Rosner, “Chirac: France, U.S. Agree There is No Point Talking to Syria,Haaretz, November 29, 2006.
86 For text of Iraq Study Group report, see
87 Gideon Alon, “Olmert, Peretz Spar over Syrian Overtures,”, December 18, 2006.
88 Interview with Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, January 17, 2007.
89 “Israeli PM Discusses Interest in Arab Initiative, Syria Talks,” Al Arabiya TV, Dubai, July 10, 2007, BBC
Monitoring Middle East, July 11, 2007.
90 Speech to People’s Assembly, Syrian Arab Television, July 17, 2007, Open Source Center Document

On September 6, the Israeli Air Force carried out an air raid against a site in northeastern
Syria.On September 12, a New York Times report alleged that the target may have been a nuclear
weapons installation under construction with North Korean-supplied materials. Syrian and North
Korean officials denied this allegation and, on October 1, President Asad claimed that an
unoccupied military compound had been hit. On October 25, the International Institute for
Science and International Security released satellite photos showing that a suspected reactor
building had been razed and the site scraped, raising suspicions about the site’s purpose. Syria has
not retaliated for the air raid. On January 8, 2008, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Director General Mohamed El Baradei told a pan-Arab newspaper that, “Based on satellite 91
photographs, experts believe it is unlikely that the targeted construction was a nuclear facility.”
He admitted that the Syrians had not allowed the IAEA to inspect the site. On January 12, 2008, it
was reported that new satellite photos show construction at the site resembling the former 92
building, which will cover the remains of the old one and possibly conceal its past. (See “Role
of Congress/Israeli Raid on Suspected Syrian Nuclear Site,” below, for additional information on
this issue.)
On September 23, 2007, Secretary Rice had expressed hope that participants in the Annapolis
meeting would include the members of the Arab League Follow Up Committee, which is made up
of 12 Arab governments, including Syria. On October 1, President Asad responded that his 93
government would not attend unless the Golan Heights were discussed. Syria’s Deputy Minister
of Foreign Affairs attended the conference and explained that his presence resulted from the
inclusion of the return of the Golan on the agenda. In December, Secretary Rice declared that
“Annapolis was a chance we gave Syria and its test was the (presidential) elections in Lebanon.
So far, the Syrians have failed completely.”
For several months, there was speculation about a revived Israel-Syria peace track as Professor
Ahmet Davutoglu, a close foreign policy advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, was reported to be carrying messages between Damascus and Jerusalem. Israeli officials
repeatedly hinted that talks were afoot, acknowledging that the price of peace for Israeli would be
the Golan Heights and hoping that it might be a way to distance Syria from Iran, Hezbollah, and 94
On April 17, Prime Minister Olmert confirmed that the two sides had been in contact and, on
April 24, President Asad revealed that Erdogan had informed him “about Israel’s readiness for a
full withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for a peace agreement with Israel.” Asad
claimed that mediation had intensified after the Israel-Hezbollah war of 2006 and especially after
Turkey became involved in April 2007. Reports said that Olmert had first discussed the
possibility of mediation with Erdogan in Turkey in February 2007. Asad also asserted that there
would be no direct negotiations, only those through Turkey. He maintained that direct talks
require a U.S. sponsor and that Syria might discuss them “with the next U.S. administration

91Report: New Satellite Photo Shows Construction at Syrian Site Bombed by Israel,” Associated Press, January 12,
92 William J. Broad, “Syria Rebuilding on Site Destroyed by Israeli Bombs,” New York Times, January 12, 2008.
93Assad Casts Doubt on Syrian Participation in Peace Summit,” Associated Press, October 11, 2007, citing an
interview with Tunisian newspapers.
94 Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz, “Olmert Hints at Secret Syria Track,Jerusalem Post, March 27, 2008, Mark Weiss,
“Barak: Renewing Peace Talks with Damascus is a Priority; Assad (sic) Accuses Israel of Foot-Dragging in
Negotiations,” Jerusalem Post, March 30, 2008.

because this one has no vision or a will for the peace process.”95 U.S. State Department
spokesman Tom Casey has said that neither party has formally requested the United States to 96
become directly involved. “If Syria and Israel came to us, we’d certainly consider the request.”
On May 21, Israel, Syria, and Turkey simultaneously announced that Israel and Syria had indeed
launched peace talks mediated by Turkey. On May 19-21, negotiating teams had held indirect
talks in Istanbul. The aim is to reach “common ground” on issues relating to withdrawal, security
arrangements, water, and normal peaceful relations from which to move toward direct
This initiative would appear contrary to the Bush Administration’s policy of isolating Syria.
However, the White House said that the Administration was not surprised by the trilateral
announcement and did not object to it. Secretary Rice said, “We would welcome any steps that
might lead to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East .... We are working very hard on the
Palestinian track. It doesn’t mean that the U.S. would not support other tracks.” White House
spokeswoman Dana Perino added, “What we hope is that this is a forum to address various
concerns that we all share about Syria – the United States, Israel, and many others – in regard to
Syria’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah (and) the training and funding of terrorists that belong 97
to these organizations .... We believe it could help us to further isolate Iran....” On June 5,
Secretary Rice thanked Turkey for sponsoring the indirect talks between Israel and Syria.
Asad has stated that direct talks are unlikely before 2009 and “depend on the stability of the 98
Israeli government....” He said that eventually direct negotiations would tackle the details of
water, relations, and other matters, but, when dealing with water, Syria would never compromise
on the 1967 borders that stretch to Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee). Referring to Israel’s
demands concerning Syria’s relations with Iran and Hezbollah, Asad asserted, “We do not accept
the imposition of conditions on us that are linked to countries that have nothing to do with 99
peace....” On July 7, Asad told the French newspaper Le Figaro that he would not begin direct 100
talks with Israel while President Bush is in office.
On September 4, President Asad disclosed that his representatives had transmitted proposals or
principles for peace to serve as a basis for direct talks with Israel to Turkish mediators, but would
wait for Israel’s response before holding direct talks. He repeated that direct talks also await a
new U.S. Administration. Asad stressed that “Syria has no interest in relinquishing its ties with 101
Hezbollah.” He added that future negotiations depend on the next prime minister of Israel and
his/her commitment to pursuing peace. A fifth round of indirect talks was postponed ostensibly

95 “Al-Asad Reveals Turkish Mediation with Israel, Al-Watan, April 24, 2008, Open Source Center Document
GMP20080424090001, also interview with Asad by editors of Al-Watan, April 27, 2008, Open Source Center
Document FEA20080429651667.
96 Jay Solomon, “Syria calls for U.S. to Play a Direct Role in Peace Talks,Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2008.
97 Cam Simpson, “ Israel, Syria in Indirect Peace Talks,Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2008, “US Welcomes Syrian-
Israeli Talks but Stresses Palestinian Track,” Yahoo! News, May 21, 2008, “Rice: Israeli-Palestinian Track Most
Likely to Produce Results, Associated Press, May 22, 2008.
98 “Syria says No Direct Talks with Israel before 2009,Times of Oman, June 4, 2008, citing Al-Khaleej Emirates daily.
99 “Syria says Israel Terms Signal not Serious on Peace,” Reuters, June 5, 2008.
100 Barak Ravid,Assad: Direct Talks with Israel Only After Bush Leaves Office, Haaretz, July 8, 2008.
101 “Herb Keinon, “Frustrated Israel watches Syria Break Out of Isolation,Jerusalem Post, September 5, 2008.

due to the resignation of Yoram Turbowicz, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s chief of staff and
negotiator with Syria.
Citing Security Council Resolution 425, Lebanon sought Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from
the 9-mile “security zone” in southern Lebanon, and the end of Israel’s support for Lebanese
militias in the south and its shelling of villages that Israel claimed were sites of Hezbollah
activity. Israel claimed no Lebanese territory, but said that its forces would withdraw only when
the Lebanese army controlled the south and prevented Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel.
Lebanon sought a withdrawal schedule in exchange for addressing Israel’s security concerns. The
two sides never agreed. Syria, which then dominated Lebanon, said that Israel-Syria progress
should come first. Israel’s July 1993 assault on Hezbollah prompted 250,000 people to flee from
south Lebanon. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher arranged a cease-fire. In March/April
1996, Israel again attacked Hezbollah and Hezbollah fired into northern Israel. Hezbollah and the
Israeli Defense Forces agreed to a cease-fire and to refrain from firing from or into populated
areas but retained the right of self-defense. The agreement was monitored by U.S., French,
Syrian, Lebanese, and Israeli representatives.
On January 5, 1998, the Israeli Defense Minister indicated readiness to withdraw from southern
Lebanon if the second part of Resolution 425, calling for the restoration of peace and security in
the region, were implemented. He and Prime Minister Netanyahu proposed withdrawal in
exchange for security, not peace and normalization. Lebanon and Syria called for an
unconditional withdrawal. As violence in northern Israel and southern Lebanon increased later in
1998, the Israeli cabinet twice opposed unilateral withdrawal. In April 1999, however, Israel
decreased its forces in Lebanon and, in June, the Israeli-allied South Lebanese Army (SLA)
withdrew from Jazzin, north of the security zone. On taking office, new Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Barak promised to withdraw in one year, by July 7, 2000.
On September 4, 1999, the Lebanese Prime Minister confirmed support for the “resistance”
against the occupation, that is, Hezbollah. He argued that Palestinian refugees residing in
Lebanon have the right to return to their homeland and rejected their implantation in Lebanon
(which would upset its fragile sectarian balance). He also rejected Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright’s assertion that refugees would be a subject of Israeli-Palestinian final status talks and
insisted that Lebanon be a party to such talks.
On March 5, 2000, the Israeli cabinet voted to withdraw from southern Lebanon by July. Lebanon
warned that it would not guarantee security for northern Israel unless Israel also withdrew from
the Golan and worked to resolve the refugee issue. On April 17, Israel informed the U.N. of its
plan. On May 12, Lebanon told the U.N. that Israel’s withdrawal would not be complete unless it
included Shib’a Farms. On May 23, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that most of
Shib’a is within the area of operations of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)
overseeing the 1974 Israeli-Syrian disengagement, and recommended proceeding without
prejudice to later border agreements. On May 23, the SLA collapsed, and on May 24 Israel
completed its withdrawal. Hezbollah took over the former security zone. On June 18, the U.N.
Security Council agreed that Israel had withdrawn. The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

deployed only 400 troops to the border region because the Lebanese army did not back them 102
against Hezbollah.
On October 7, Hezbollah shelled northern Israel and captured three Israeli soldiers; then, on
October 16, it captured an Israeli colonel. On November 13, the U.N. Security Council said that
Lebanon was obliged to take control of the area vacated by Israel. On April 16 and July 2, 2001,
after Hezbollah attacked its soldiers in Shib’a, Israel, claiming that Syria controls Hezbollah,
bombed Syrian radar sites in Lebanon. In April, the U.N. warned Lebanon that unless it deployed
to the border, UNIFIL would be cut or phased out. On January 28, 2002, the Security Council
voted to cut it to 2,000 by the end of 2002.
In March 2003, Hezbollah shelled Israeli positions in Shib’a and northern Israel. Israel responded
with air strikes and expressed concern about a possible second front in addition to the Palestinian
intifadah. At its request, the U.N. Secretary-General contacted the Syrian and Lebanese
Presidents and, on April 8, Vice President Cheney telephoned President Asad and Secretary of
State Powell visited northern Israel and called on Syria to curb Hezbollah. On January 30, 2004,
Israel and Hezbollah exchanged 400 Palestinian and 29 Lebanese and other Arab prisoners, and
the remains of 59 Lebanese for the Israeli colonel and the bodies of the three soldiers.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, September 2, 2004, called for the withdrawal of all 103
foreign (meaning Syrian) forces from Lebanon. Massive anti-Syrian demonstrations occurred
in Lebanon after the February 14, 2005, assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik
Hariri, widely blamed on Syrian agents. On March 5, Asad announced a phased withdrawal of
Syrian troops from Lebanon, which was completed on April 26.
On May 28, 2006, Palestinian rockets fired from Syria hit deep inside northern Israel and Israeli
planes and artillery responded by striking PFLP-GC bases near Beirut and near the Syrian border.
Hezbollah joined the confrontation and was targeted by Israelis. UNIFIL brokered a cease-fire.
On July 12, in the midst of massive shelling of a town in northern Israel, Hezbollah forces
crossed into northwestern Israel and attacked two Israeli military vehicles, killing three soldiers
and kidnaping two. Hezbollah demanded that Israel release Lebanese and other Arab prisoners in
exchange for the soldiers and for a third soldier who had been kidnaped by the Palestinian group
Hamas on June 25. (On the latter situation, see “Israel-Palestinians,” above.) Hezbollah leader
Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah said that the soldiers would be returned only through indirect
negotiations for a prisoner exchange. He suggested that the Hezbollah operation might provide a
way out of the crisis in Gaza because Israel had negotiated with Hezbollah in the past, although it
refused to negotiate with Hamas now.
Prime Minister Olmert declared that Hezbollah’s attack was “an act of war” and promised that
Lebanon would suffer the consequences of Hezbollah’s actions. The Lebanese government
replied that it had no prior knowledge of the operation and did not take responsibility or credit for
it. Israeli officials also blamed Syria and Iran but were careful to say that they had no plans to
strike either one. Immediately after the Hezbollah attack, Israeli forces launched a major military
campaign against and imposed an air, sea, and ground blockade on Lebanon. In a July 17 speech,
Olmert summarized Israel’s conditions for the end of military operations: the return of the

102 SeeCRS Report RL31078, The Shib'a Farms Dispute and Its Implications, by Alfred B. Prados.
103 For text of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, see

kidnaped soldiers, the end to Hezbollah rocket attacks, and the deployment of the Lebanese army 104
along the border.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora requested U.N. help in arranging a cease-fire. On August
8, the Lebanese government promised to deploy 15,000 troops to the south for the first time since
1978 if Israel withdrew its forces. Hezbollah agreed to the government proposal, while Olmert
found it “interesting.” On August 9, the Israeli security cabinet authorized the Prime Minister and
Defense Minister to determine when to expand the ground campaign while continuing efforts to
achieve a political agreement. Only after the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1701
calling for the end to hostilities on August 11 did Olmert authorize an offensive, and those two
days of fighting proved costly for both sides ensued.
Resolution 1701 called for the full cessation of hostilities, the extension of the government of
Lebanon’s control over all Lebanese territory, and the deployment of Lebanese forces and an
expanded UNIFIL, 15,000 each, in a buffer zone between the Israeli-Lebanese border and the 105
Litani River to be free of “any armed personnel” other than the Lebanese army and UNIFIL.
The resolution authorized UNIFIL to ensure that its area of operations is not used for hostile
activities and to resist by forceful means attempts to prevent it from discharging its duties. It
banned the supply of arms to Lebanon, except as authorized by the government, and called for the
disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon. The resolution did not require the return of the
abducted Israeli soldiers or the release of Lebanese prisoners. It requested the Secretary-General
to develop proposals for the delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, “including by
dealing with the Shib’a Farms area.” The truce went into effect on August 14. In all, 44 Israel
civilians and 119 military men, 1191 Lebanese civilians, 46 Lebanese soldiers, and an estimated
600 Hezbollah militants died in the war. The Lebanese Army began to move south to the border
on August 17 as Israeli forces handed over positions to the U.N.
Hezbollah leader Nasrallah declared victory and said that Hezbollah would not disarm as long as
Israel did not withdraw completely from Lebanon, including the Shib’a Farms. On August 14, the
Lebanese Defense Minister said that the army had no intention of disarming Hezbollah, but
Hezbollah weapons would no longer be visible. On August 19, Israeli commandos raided an
Hezbollah stronghold near Ba’albek in the Bekaa Valley. Hezbollah did not respond and the
cease-fire held.
On August 14, Olmert accepted responsibility for the war and claimed as achievements a terrorist
organization no longer allowed to operate from Lebanon and a government of Lebanon 106
responsible for its territory. He claimed that a severe blow had been dealt to Hezbollah. After
the war, he expressed hope that the cease-fire could help “build a new reality between Israel and
Lebanon,” while Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora declared that Lebanon would be the last
country to sign a peace agreement with Israel. On September 7, Olmert said that if the Shib’a
Farms is determined to be Lebanese and not Syrian and if Lebanon fulfills its obligations under

104 For text of Olmert’s speech, see
105 Text of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 is accessible online at
106 For text of Olmerts statement, see Israeli Television Channel 1, August 14, 2006, Open Source Center Document

U.N. resolutions, including the disarming of Hezbollah, then Israel would discuss the Farms with
On October 30, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported that there has been no breach
of the 2006 cease-fire and that the parties show determination to keep it. He noted reports of
suspected Hezbollah construction north of the Litani River and in the Bekaa Valley, and stated
that the Israeli government contends that Hezbollah has rearmed itself to a level higher than prior
to the 2006 conflict because of the transfer of weapons from Iran and Syria in violation of the 107
arms embargo.
On February 12, 2008, Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyah, who was suspected of planning
terrorist attacks in the 1980s against Americans in Lebanon and in the 1990s against Jews and
Israelis in Argentina, was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria.
On May 31, Hezbollah handed over to Israel the remains of five soldiers killed in the summer war
of 2006, and Israel released an Israeli of Lebanese descent who had been convicted of spying for
Hezbollah. On June 29, the Israeli cabinet approved a larger prisoner exchange with Hezbollah.
The remains of two Israeli soldiers whose capture by Hezbollah during the 2006 raid into
northern Israel had triggered the war, a report on Ron Arad, an Israeli pilot missing in action since

1986, and the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in the 2006 war were given to Israel. In exchange,

Israel released Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese member of a Palestinian terrorist group who had killed
an Israeli man and his young daughter in 1979, four Hezbollah fighters, the bodies of eight
Hezbollah members, and the bodies of other terrorists, and information on four missing Iranian
diplomats to the U.N. Secretary General. At a later date, Israel released some Palestinian
During a visit to Lebanon, Secretary Rice called for U.N. action on Shib’a Farms. Hezbollah has
used that Israeli occupation to justify its “resistance” and rejection of disarmament, but now says
that putting the Farms in U.N. custody will not end its resistance. On June 18, Israel offered to
start direct peace talks on all issues with Lebanon. The Lebanese government rejected the offer,
stating that occupied Lebanese territory is subject to “U.N. resolutions that do not require any 108
negotiations.” Beirut demanded that Israel return Shib’a Farms and provide maps of mines and
cluster bombs left during the 2006 war.
On July 13, new Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said the Israeli-occupied Shib’a Farms area
should be liberated through diplomatic means, but, if diplomacy fails, military operations would
be used. On August 13, he and Syrian PresidentAsad stated that a committee would work to
“define and draw the Syrian-Lebanese borders,” but Shi’ba Farms will not be demarcated until 109
Israel withdraws.
On September 4, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah declared that his group would not disarm even if
Israel withdrew from the Shib’a Farms and the northern Ghajar village because its weapons are 110
needed to defend Lebanon from Israel.

107 United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary General on the Implementation of Security Council
Resolution 1701 (2006), S/2007/641, October 30, 2007, accessible via
108Beirut Reiterates Rejection of Bilateral Talks over Shebaa, Daily Star, June 19, 2008.
109 Khaled Yacoub Oweis, “Syria and Lebanon to Work on Drawing Border, Reuters, August 14, 2008.
110 For background see CRS Report RL33509, Lebanon, by Christopher M. Blanchard and Jeremy M. Sharp.

Of Jordan’s 3.4 million people, 55 to 70% are Palestinian. Jordan initialed a June 1993 agenda
with Israel on water, energy, environment, and economic matters on September 14, 1993. On July
25, 1994, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein signed the Washington
Declaration, a non-belligerency accord. A peace treaty was signed on October 26, 1994. (See
“Significant Agreements,” below). The border was demarcated and Israel withdrew from
Jordanian land on February 9, 1995. More agreements followed.
Although supportive of the peace process and of normalization of relations with Israel, on March
9, 1997, King Hussein charged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “bent on
destroying the peace process....” After Israeli agents bungled an attempt to assassinate Hamas
official Khalid Mish’al in Jordan on September 25, 1997, the King demanded that Israel release
Hamas founder Shaykh Yassin, which it did on October 1, with 70 Jordanian and Palestinian
prisoners in exchange for the detained Israeli agents. On December 5, 1998, the King called for
Jordan-Palestinian coordination, observing that many final status issues are Jordanian national
interests. King Hussein died on February 7, 1999, and was succeeded by his son Abdullah.
King Abdullah said that the Palestinians should administer the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, a
traditional responsibility of his family, and proposed that Jerusalem be an Israeli and a Palestinian
capital, but rejected a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation. On November 21, 2000, Jordan
stopped accreditation of a new ambassador to Israel because of Israeli “aggression” against the
Palestinians. On March 18, 2004, the King met Sharon to discuss Israel’s security barrier and
disengagement from Gaza. In February 2005, Jordan proposed deploying about 1,500 Palestinian
soldiers (Badr Brigade) from Jordan to the northern West Bank, pending approval of the PA and
Israel. Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz said that the Badr Brigade could train Palestinians in the
West Bank, but the Brigade was not deployed. Also in February 2005, Jordan sent an ambassador
to Israel; in March, its foreign minister visited Israel for the first time in four years.
In a March 14, 2007, address to a joint session of Congress, King Abdullah II of Jordan pleaded
for U.S. leadership in the peace process, which he called the “core issue in the Middle East.” He
suggested that the Arab Peace Initiative is a path to achieve a collective peace treaty.

On September 9, 1993, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat recognized Israel’s right to exist, accepted
U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Middle East peace process, and the peaceful
resolution of conflicts. He renounced terrorism and violence and undertook to prevent them,
stated that articles of the Palestinian Charter that contradict his commitments are invalid,
undertook to submit Charter changes to the Palestine National Council, and called upon his
people to reject violence. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin recognized the PLO as the 111
representative of the Palestinian people and agreed to negotiate with it.

111 For text, see

On August 29, 1993, Israel and the Palestinians announced that they had agreed on a Declaration
of Principles on interim self-government for the West Bank and Gaza, after secret negotiations in
Oslo, Norway, since January 1993. Effective October 13, it called for Palestinian self-rule in Gaza
and Jericho; transfer of authority over domestic affairs in the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinians;
election of a Palestinian Council with jurisdiction over the West Bank and Gaza. During the
interim period, Israel is to be responsible for external security, settlements, Israelis in the
territories, and foreign relations. Permanent status negotiations to begin in the third year of 112
interim rule and may include Jerusalem.
Signed on May 4, 1994, provides for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza/Jericho, and describes the
Palestinian Authority’s (PA) responsibilities. The accord began the five-year period of interim 113
Signed on October 26, 1994.
(Also called the Taba Accords or Oslo II.) Signed on September 28, 1995. Annexes deal with
security arrangements, elections, civil affairs, legal matters, economic relations, Israeli-
Palestinian cooperation, and the release of prisoners. Negotiations on permanent status to begin in
May 1996. An 82-member Palestinian Council and Head of the Council’s Executive Authority
will be elected after the Israeli Defense Force redeploys from Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilyah,
Ramallah, and Bethlehem, and 450 towns and villages. Israel will redeploy in Hebron, except
where necessary for security of Israelis. Israel will be responsible for external security and the
security of Israelis and settlements. Palestinians will be totally responsible for Area “A,” the six
cities, plus Jericho. Israeli responsibility for overall security will have precedence over
Palestinian responsibility for public order in Area “B,” Palestinian towns and villages. Israel will
retain full responsibility in Area “C,” unpopulated areas. Palestinian Charter articles calling for 114
the destruction of Israel will be revoked within two months of the Council’s inauguration.
Initialed by Israel and the PA on January 15, 1997. Details security arrangements. Accompanying
Israeli and Palestinian Notes for the Record and letter from Secretary of State Christopher to 115
Prime Minister Netanyahu.

112 For text, see
113 For text, see
114 For text, see
115 For Protocol text, see

Signed on October 23, 1998. Delineated steps to complete implementation of the Interim
Agreement and of agreements accompanying the Hebron Protocol. Israel will redeploy from the
West Bank in exchange for Palestinian security measures. The PA will have complete or shared
responsibility for 40% of the West Bank, of which it will have complete control of 18.2%. The
PLO Executive and Central Committees will reaffirm a January 22, 1998, letter from Arafat to
President Clinton that specified articles of the Palestinian Charter that had been nullified in April

1996. The Palestine National Council will reaffirm these decisions. President Clinton will address 116

this conclave.
(Also called Wye II.) Signed on September 4, 1999.117 Israeli Prime Minister Barak and PA
Chairman Arafat agreed to resume permanent status negotiations in an accelerated manner in
order to conclude a framework agreement on permanent status issues in five months and a
comprehensive agreement on permanent status in one year. Other accords dealt with unresolved
matters of Hebron, prisoners, etc.
(More briefly referred to as the Road Map.) Presented to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on
April 30, 2003, by the Quartet (i.e., the United States, European Union, United Nations, and
Russia). To achieve a comprehensive settlement in three phases by 2005. Phase I calls for the
Palestinians to unconditionally end violence, resume security cooperation, and undertake political
reforms, and for Israel to withdraw from areas occupied since September 28, 2000, and to freeze
all settlement activity. Phase II will produce a Palestinian state with provisional borders. Phase III 118
will end in a permanent status agreement which will end the conflict.
From the Gaza Strip, reached on November 15, 2005, calls for reopening the Rafah border
crossing to Egypt with European Union monitors on November 25, live closed circuit TV feeds of
the crossing to Israel, Palestinian bus convoys between the West Bank and Gaza beginning 119
December 15, exports from Gaza into Israel, and construction of the Gaza seaport.
Read by President Bush at the Annapolis Conference, November 27, 2007. Prime Minister Olmert
and President Abbas express their determination to immediately launch continuous, bilateral

116 For text, see
117 For text, see
118 For text, see
119 For text, see

negotiations in an effort to conclude a peace treaty resolving all core issues before the end of
2008. They also commit to immediately and continuously implement their respective obligations
under the Road Map until they reach a peace treaty. Implementation of the peace treaty will be 120
subject to the implementation of the Road Map, as judged by the United States.

P.L. 110-5, the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007, signed into law on February
15, 2007, provided $50 million in aid for the West Bank and Gaza. This aid was suspended while
the Hamas-led national unity government held power from March to June 2007. On March 23,
2007, the Administration notified Congress that it intended to reprogram $59 million in FY2006
Economic Support Funds (ESF) funds for direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), including
$16 million to improve the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza and $43 million for training
and non-lethal assistance to Abbas’s Presidential Guard. Congress did not object and the President
issued a waiver to permit the aid to be disbursed. In June, President Bush issued a waiver to allow
an additional $18 million in direct assistance to the PA for democracy assistance, combating
money laundering, and security upgrades at Karni.
For FY2008, the Administration initially requested $63.5 million for the West Bank and Gaza and
$10 million in Child Survival and Health Funds. After the formation of a non-Hamas-led PA
government, the Administration sought an additional $410 million, including $100 million for
direct budgetary support, $25 million for security sector reforms, and $35 million for emergency
needs of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon. P.L. 110-161, the
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, signed into law on December 26, 2007, appropriates
$218,500,000 in assistance for the West Bank and Gaza. If the President waives the ban on
providing funds to the PA, then not more than $100 million may be made available for cash
transfers to the PA until the Secretary of State certifies and reports that it has established a single
treasury account for all financing, has eliminated all parallel financing mechanisms, and has
established a single, comprehensive civil service roster and payroll. None of the funds
appropriated for cash transfer assistance may be obligated for salaries of PA personnel located in
Gaza, and none may be obligated or expended for assistance to Hamas or any entity controlled by
Hamas or any power-sharing government with Hamas unless Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to
exist and accepts prior accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. None of
the funds appropriated by the act may be provided to support a Palestinian state unless its
governing entity has demonstrated a commitment to peaceful coexistence with Israel and is taking
measures to counter terrorism and terrorist financing in the West Bank and Gaza, among other
On December 17, 2007, international donors at a conference in Paris pledged $7.4 billion,
including $3.4 billion for 2008, for the PA. The United States pledged $555 million, much of
which had been previously announced but not approved by Congress. H.R. 2642, the

120 For text, see
121 See alsoCRS Report RL32260, U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends,
and the FY2009 Request, by Jeremy M. Sharp, CRS Report RS22967, U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians, by Jim
Zanotti, and CRS Report RL33222, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, by Jeremy M. Sharp.

Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008, signed into law as P.L. 110-252 on June 30, 2008,
appropriates $171 million in ESF for the West Bank and Gaza; none of these funds may be for
cash transfers. It also requires the Secretary of State to submit a report on U.S. assistance for 122
training the Palestinian security force.
Israel annexed the city in 1967 and proclaimed it to be Israel’s eternal, undivided capital.
Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as their capital. Successive U.S. Administrations have
maintained that the parties must determine the fate of Jerusalem in negotiations. H.Con.Res. 60,
June 10, 1997, and S.Con.Res. 21, May 20, 1997, called on the Administration to affirm that
Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel. Congress has repeatedly prohibited official
U.S. government business with the PA in Jerusalem and the use of appropriated funds to create
U.S. government offices in Israel to conduct business with the PA and allows Israel to be recorded
as the place of birth of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. These provisions are again in P.L. 110-
161, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008. The State Department does not recognize
Jerusalem, Israel as a place of birth for passports because the U.S. government does not recognize
all of Jerusalem as part of Israel.
A related issue is the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Proponents
argue that Israel is the only country where a U.S. embassy is not in the capital, that Israel’s claim
to West Jerusalem, proposed site of an embassy, is unquestioned, and that Palestinians must be
disabused of their hope for a capital in Jerusalem. Opponents say a move would undermine the
peace process and U.S. credibility in the Islamic world and with Palestinians, and would prejudge
the final status of the city. P.L. 104-45, November 8, 1995, provided for the embassy’s relocation
by May 31, 1999, but granted the President authority, in national security interest, to suspend
limitations on State Department expenditures that would be imposed if the embassy did not open.
Presidents Clinton and Bush each used the authority several times. The State Department
Authorization Act for FY2002-FY2003, P.L. 107-228, September 30, 2002, urged the President to
begin relocating the U.S. Embassy “immediately.” The President replied that the provision would
“if construed as mandatory ... impermissibly interfere with the president’s constitutional authority
to conduct the nation’s foreign affairs.” The State Department declared, “our view of Jerusalem is
unchanged. Jerusalem is a permanent status issue to be negotiated between the parties.”
The President signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, P.L.
108-175, on December 12, 2003, to hold Syria accountable for its conduct, including actions that
undermine peace. On May 11, 2004, he cited the act as his authority to block property of certain
persons and prohibit the exportation or reexportation of certain goods to Syria. These measures
have since been extended annually, most recently on May 8, 2008.
H.Res. 674, introduced on September 24, 2007, would express “unequivocal support ... for
Israel’s right to self defense in the face of an imminent nuclear or military threat from Syria.” Sec.

122 For detail on aid to the Palestinians, seeCRS Report RS22967, U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians, by Jim Zanotti.

328 of the Conference Report (H.Rept. 110-478) for H.R. 2082, the Intelligence Authorization
Act for FY2008, agreed to in the House on December 13, would limit spending of the intelligence
budget to 30% until each member of the intelligence committees has been informed with respect
to intelligence regarding the facility targeted on September 6. The Administration objected that
this provision would circumvent the Executive’s authority to control access to extraordinarily 123
sensitive information. The Senate agreed to the Conference Report on February 13, 2008, by a
vote of 51-45 and the bill was cleared for the White House.
On April 24, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, CIA Director Michael Hayden, and
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell presented evidence to congressional
committees that the Israeli target was a nuclear reactor, designed by and being built with the
assistance of North Korea. Hayden said that the reactor was within weeks or months of
completion and, within a year of entering operation, it could have produced enough material for
at least one weapon. These officials reportedly acknowledged lack of no evidence indicating that
Syria was working on nuclear weapons designs and that they had not identified a source of
nuclear material for the facility. They expressed “low confidence” that the site was part of a 124
nuclear weapons program. They also denied U.S. involvement in planning or executing the
September 6 strike. Experts suggested that the inability to identify a source of fuel raised
questions about when the reactor would have been operational and agreed that the inability to
identify facilities to separate plutonium from fuel raised further questions about whether the 125
reactor was part of a weapons program. On June 16, International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) Director General Mohammed ElBaradei told Al Arabiyah Television, “We have no
evidence that Syria has the human resources that would allow it to carry out a large nuclear 126
program. We do not see Syria having nuclear fuel.”
H.Res. 185, agreed to in the House by a voice vote on April 1, 2008, resolves, inter alia, that a
Middle East peace agreement must resolve outstanding issues related to the legitimate rights of all
refugees, including Jews, Christians, and others displaced from Arab countries for it to be
credible and enduring.
H.Res. 951, agreed to in the House on March 5, 2008, by a vote of 404-1, 4 present, condemns
the ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist

123 See Statement of Administration Policy regarding H.R. 2082, issued December 11, 2008,
124 Greg Miller, Paul Richter, “U.S. Opens Dossier on Syrian Facility, Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2008, “Syrian
Reactor Capacity was 1-2 Weapons/Year: CIA, Reuters, April 29, 2008.
125 Ibid., citing former weapons inspector David Albright.
126Syria Lacks Skills, Fuel for Nuclear Facility: IAEA,” Reuters, June 17, 2008.

Figure 1. Israel and Its Neighbors
Source: Map Resources. Adapted by CRS.
Carol Migdalovitz
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, 7-2667