How Did We Get Here?
A History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
7. From Oslo to the Second Intifada
This is the seventh in a series of eight lectures, sponsored by
A Jewish Voice for Peace.
This lecture was videotaped on Dec. 2, 2002. The lecturers are George
Bisharat and Joel Beinin.
About George Bisharat and Joel Beinin
George Bisharat is Professor at UC Hastings.
His study of the impact of Israeli
occupation on the Palestinian legal profession of the West Bank,
Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule: Law and Disorder in the West
Bank, was published in 1989. In recent years, Professor Bisharat has
consulted with the Palestinian Legislative Council over the structure
of the Palestinian judiciary, reforms in criminal procedure, and other
aspects of legal development.
His books include:
- Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule: Law and Disorder in the
West Bank (1990, University of Texas Press)
Joel Beinin is Professor of Middle East history at Stanford University.
He is currently serving as the President of the Middle
East Studies Association of North America, and is also
involved with the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP)
and the Middle East Social and Cultural History Association.
His books include:
- Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam and the
Egyptian Working Class, 1882-1954 (1987, Princeton University Press;
2000, American University in Cairo Press; co-authored with Zachary
- Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising Against Israeli Occupation
(1989, South End Press; co-edited with Zachary Lockman)
- Was the Red Flag Flying There? Marxist Politics and the Arab-Israeli
Conflict in Egypt and Israel, 1948-1965 (1990, University of California
- Political Islam: Essays from Middle East Report
(University of California Press, 1998; co-edited with Joe Stork)
- The Dispersion
of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern
Diaspora (1998, University of California Press).
- Workers and Peasants in the Modern Middle East
(Cambridge University Press, 2001)
This chronology is largely derived from Charles Enderlin's Shattered
Dreams, with additional material from the MidEastWeb's timeline and
other sources. This provides significantly more detail than is provided
in the lecture.
- June 13: Venice Declaration of the European Council on the
Middle East, advocating two state solution.
- Dec.: First intifada begins.
- Jan.: Founding of Hamas Islamic Brotherhood.
- Apr. 16: Israel assassinates Khalil El-Wazir (Abu Jihad), Arafat's
second-in-command, in Tunis.
- Nov. 15: PLO adopts two state plan; declares a Palestinian state
- Aug.: Iraq invades and conquers Kuwait.
- Jan.: Operation Desert Storm ("Gulf War"). PLO, having supported
Saddam Hussein, loses support from Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states.
- Oct. 30: Madrid Peace Conference, promoted by U.S. but excludes
participation by PLO.
- June 23: Yitzhak Rabin elected Prime Minister of Israel,
replacing Yitzhak Shamir.
- Feb.: Oslo secret meetings.
- Aug.: Oslo accords.
- Sept. 9-10: Mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO.
- Sept. 13: The "Oslo Accord," a declaration of principles,
signed by Israel and the PLO in Washington.
- Feb. 25: Hebron settler Baruch Goldstein kills 29 Palestinians,
wounds over 100, at prayer services in a Hebron mosque.
- Mar.-Apr.: Hamas suicide bombings.
- Oct. 26: Peace treaty signed between Israel and Jordan.
- Jan.-July: Terrorist attacks in Israel by Hamas and Islamic
Jihad kill 95 Israelis.
- Sept. 28: Interim accord (Oslo II) between Israel and the PLO
signed in Washington.
- Nov. 4: Yitzhak Rabin assassinated in Tel Aviv by Yigal Amir,
a member of a far right religious party.
- Dec. 27-Feb. 25, 1996: Israeli-Syrian negotiations at Wye
Plantation in the U.S.
- Jan. 5: Hamas bomb maker Yahya Ayyash ("the engineer")
assassinated by Israel.
- Jan. 20: Palestinian general elections: Arafat elected chairman
of the Palestinian Authority.
- Feb. 25: Hamas suicide bomber kills 26 Israelis in a bus in
- Mar. 2-4: Four Hamas suicide bombs kill 59 Israelis.
- Mar. 13: Summit of "peacemakers" at Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt
condemns Islamic terrorism.
- Apr. 11: Israeli army launches Operation Grapes of Wrath against
Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
- Apr. 18: Israel kills 102 Lebanese refugees in Kfar Kana, in
- May 29: Benjamin Netanyahu elected Prime Minister of Israel.
- Sept. 23-Oct. 1: Armed clashes between Israel and Palestinians
after opening of the underground passageway at the Wailing Wall in
Jerusalem, killing 15 Israeli soldiers and 80 Palestinians.
- Jan. 17: Israel withdraws from part of Hebron.
- July 30: Two Hamas suicide bombers kill 13 Israelis in Jerusalem.
- Sept. 4: Three suicide bombers kill 5 Israelis in Jerusalem.
- Sept. 25: Mossad agents in Amman, Jordan try to murder Hamas
leader Khaled Mashaal.
- Oct. 1: Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin returns to Gaza after
nine years in Israeli prisons.
- Oct. 23: Wye River accord signed by Benjamin Netanyahu and
Yasir Arafat in Washington.
- Dec. 14: Bill Clinton vists Gaza and addresses the Palestinian
Authority leadership. The revocation of the PLO charter is confirmed.
- May 17: Ehud Barak elected Prime Minister of Israel.
- July 7: Ehud Barak takes office as Prime Minister of Israel.
- Dec. 15: Peace negotiations between Israel and Syria resume
- Jan. 3: Israeli-Syrian negotiations at Shepherdstown in U.S.,
ending on Jan. 10. On Jan. 17, Syria indefinitely postpones a third round
- Mar. 21: Israel withdraws from 6.1 percent of the West Bank,
two months behind schedule.
- May 10: Secret negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians
begin in Sweden.
- May 24: Israeli army unilaterally withdraws from southern
Lebanon after 22 years of occupation. This sudden move, without any
negotiations or security guarantees, is widely seen as a victory for
Hezbollah and the use of violent resistance against Israel.
- June 21: The left-wing secular Meretz Party leaves Barak's
- July 9: Barak loses his Knesset majority with the departure
of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, the National Religious Party, and
the Russian-language Israel B'Aliyah party.
- July 11-25: At Camp David, Barak and Arafat negotiate
under the auspices of President Clinton but do not reach an accord.
- July 31: Barak barely survives two right-wing motions of
- Sept. 28: Ariel Sharon's visit to the Haram el-Sharif/Temple
Mount in Jerusalem leads to a wave of violence.
- Sept. 29: Israeli police kill 4 Palestinians and injure 160
at protests at the Haram el-Sharif/Temple Mount. This marks the start
of the Second (Al-Aqsa) Intifada.
- Oct. 12: Two Israeli soldiers lynched in Ramallah by a
Palestinian mob. Israel responds by bombing Palestinian Authority
targets. Barak invites Likud to join a "national emergency government."
- Oct. 16-18: Sharm el-Sheik summit between Barak and Arafat,
with Bill Clinton, Hosni Mubarak, Kofi Annan and Javier Solana taking
part. Since the beginning of the Intifada, 127 Palestinians and 8
Israelis have been killed.
- Oct. 22: Barak announces an indefinite "pause" in the peace
- Nov. 28: Barak agrees to hold early elections.
- Dec. 9: Barak announces his resignation.
- Dec. 23: Clinton presents the Israelis and Palestinians
with his parameters for an agreement on the final status.
- Jan. 1: Since the beginning of the Intifada, 227 Palestinians
and 41 Israelis have been killed.
- Jan. 18-28: Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians
at Taba in Egypt.
- Feb. 6: Ariel Sharon elected Prime Minister of Israel.
- Feb. 14: In Tel Aviv, a Palestinian bus driver ploughs his
vehicle into a waiting queue, killing 8 Israelis. Israel imposes a
total blockade on the Palestinian territories.
- May 14: Israeli troops kill five Palestinian policemen manning
a checkpoint in the West Bank. Combat helicopters bomb security targets
in the Gaza Strip.
- May 18: A suicide bomber kills 5 Israelis in a shopping mall
north of Tel Aviv. Israel retaliates by bombing targets in Ramallah and
Nablus with F16 warplanes.
- June 1: A suicide bomber kills 19 Israelis at a discotheque
in Tel Aviv.
- July 31: An Israeli combat helicopter launches rockets at the
Hamas office in Nablus, killing 8 Palestinians.
- Aug. 9: Hamas retaliates: a suicide bomber kills 15 Israelis
and tourists in a Jerusalem pizzeria.
- Aug. 10: Israeli helicopters destroy the headquarters of
Palestinian police and security in Ramallah. Israeli police seize
Orient House, the headquarters of the PLO in East Jerusalem.
- Aug. 26: After a Palestinian attacked an Israeli army post
in the Gaza Strip on the previous day, F15 and F16 planes destroy
Palestinian security installations in Gaza and the West Bank.
- Aug. 27: Abu Ali Mostafa, leader of the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), is killed in his office
in Ramallah by an Israeli rocket.
- Oct. 17: The PFLP retailates by killing Rehavam Zeevi,
Israeli minister of tourism and head of the extreme right-wing Moledet
party, in Jerusalem.
- Oct.-Mar. 2002: Violence escalates. Repeated Palestinian
suicide attacks create an atmosphere of deep anguish and insecurity
in Israel, while Israeli retaliatory raids and incursions into area
previously controlled by the Palestinian Authority inflict a growing
number of casualties on the Palestinian populations and wreak havoc
on the Palestinian economy.
- Mar. 27: A Hamas suicide bomber kills 29 Israelis and guests
at a Passover seder in Netanya.
- Mar. 29: Israel launches Operation Defensive Shield in the
West Bank, reoccupying all the major Palestinian cities. In Ramallah,
Israeli troops lay siege to Arafat's presidential compound.
- Mar. 31: A suicide bomber kills 16 Israelis in Haifa.
- Apr. 2: Israeli tanks and infantry launch an attack on
Bethelehem. Palestinian gunmen take refuge in the Church of the
- Apr. 9: A fierce battle in the Jenin refugee camp leaves 15
Israeli soldiers and 53 Palestinians dead.
- Apr. 12: A suicide bomber kills 6 Israelis in a bus in
- Apr. 15: Israel captures Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader,
- May 2: End of siege of Arafat's compound in Ramallah.
- May 10: End of siege of the Church of the Nativity in
Bethlehem. The gunmen are allowed to move to Gaza or abroad.
- June 5: A suicide bomber kills 17 Israelis on/near a
bus in the Galilee. In retaliation, Israeli helicopter gunships
attack Palestinian targets.
- June 6: Israeli tanks and bulldozers destroy part of Arafat's
- June 18: A suicide bomber kills 20 Israelis on a bus in Jerusalem.
Israel announces that it will reoccupy Palestinian territory in the
West Bank and hold it indefinitely in reprisal for the bombing.
- July 16: Palestinian gunmen open fire on a bus and kill 8
- July 22: Israel bombs Gaza City, killing Hamas leader Salah
Shehadeh and 14 other Palestinians, including 9 children.
- July 31: A bomb explodes in the Hebrew University cafeteria,
killing 4 Israelis and 5 US nationals.
- Sept. 21-30: The Israeli army traps Arafat in his Ramallah
compound for ten days; the siege is ended under US pressure.
- Sept. 30: Since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada,
1599 Palestinians and 577 Israelis have been killed.
- Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
- Bantustan: A popular term for the "homelands" set up by South
Africa as part of its Apartheid regime, which provided a thin veneer of
autonomy to disenfranchised black South Africans. While nominally independent,
the Bantustans' sovereignty was severely circumscribed and subordinate to
white South African control. Israel's policy of handing small, isolated
areas of the West Bank has frequently been compared to South Africa's
- Hamas: Palestinian Islamist group, founded by Sheikh Ahmad
Yassin as an armed wing of the non-nationalist Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza
in Aug. 1988. Opposed to secular PLO and Oslo peace process, which it has
significantly damaged through its terrorist activities.
- Islamic Jihad: Palestinian Islamist group, broke away from the
Muslim Brotherhood in '80s to push an extreme program of anti-Israeli
terrorism. Leader Fathi Abdul Aziz Shikaki killed by Israel in Malta in
- Yasir Abed Rabbo (1945- ): former leader in Democratic Front
for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP); member of PLO Executive Committee;
head negotiatior for PA at Taba, Jan. 2001.
- Yasir Arafat (1929- ): founder of Fatah in 1956; joined PLO
in 1968, and led PLO through the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords;
elected President of the Palestinian Authority, a post he still holds.
- Ehud Barak (1942- ): after a legendary military career (elite
units and special operations, including the 1988 assassination of Abu Jihad
in Tunis, eventually rising to Chief of Staff), entered politics, becoming
Prime Minister 1999-2001; opposed Oslo Peace Process, but oversaw Israel's
initial withdrawals from Gaza/Jericho; refused to implement Wye River
agreement, insisting on no further interim withdrawals until Final Status
negotiations complete; failed at Camp David to reach Final Status agreement,
which with the help of Bill Clinton he was able to blame squarely on Arafat,
setting the stage for the second intifada -- an event triggered by his
support for Ariel Sharon's provocative "visit" to the Temple Mount and
the excessive violence of Israel's security forces in response to the
following demonstrations. Before leaving office Barak withdrew all Israeli
peace offers, ending the Oslo Peace Process (thus sparing Sharon the
- Yossi Beilin (1948- ): a protege of Shimon Peres, initiated
the Oslo negotiations, negotiated a set of final status guidelines in
1995 with Abu Mazen, and represented Israel at Taba, Jan. 2001, but had
been excluded from the previous Camp David fiasco; Israeli Minister of
Justice under Barak (1999-2001).
- Benjamin Netanyahu (1949- ): Likud political leader, Prime
Minister 1996-99; opposed Oslo Agreement, which he significantly undermined
as Prime Minister.
- Shimon Peres (1923- ): Israeli politician, Labor party Prime
Minister 1986-88 and 1995-96; Foreign Minister under Likud-dominated
"unity" governments led by Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon.
- Yitzhak Rabin (1922-95): IDF chief of staff during 1967 war.
Later Ambassador to U.S., Prime Minister (1974-77, 1992-95). Was Defense
Minister during Intifada.
- Ariel Sharon (1928- ): Israeli military leader and politician,
responsible for a long string of atrocities including the 1953 Qibia raid
and the 1982 Phalange massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps
in Beirut; architect of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon; held various
posts in Likud governments where he promoted Israel's settlement policy;
his "visit" with 1000 security troops to the mosques in East Jerusalem
triggered the second (Al-Aqsa) Intifada in 2000; elected Prime Minister
in 2001, putting an end to the Oslo "peace process" and unleashing an
unprecedented level of violence in Israel's occupation of the West Bank
and Gaza; proclaimed "a man of peace" by George W. Bush.
The website suggests the following books for further information on this
The following are useful books that we are familiar with and recommend:
- George Bisharat, "Peace and the Political Imperative of Legal
Reform in Palestine", Case Western Reserve Journal of International
Law, Volume 31 (Spring/Summer 1999).
- Roane Carey (editor), The New Intifada: Resisting Israel's
Apartheid, Verso Books, 2001.
- Adam Hanieh, "Class, Economy, and the Second Intifada", Monthly
Review, Volume 54, Number 5, October 2002.
- Tanya Reinhart, Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948,
Seven Stories Press, 2002.
- Charles Enderlin, Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace
Process in the Middle East, 1995-2002, Other Press, 2003.
- Baruch Kimmerling, Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against the
Palestinians, Verso Books, 2003.
- Jonathan Shainin and Roane Carey, editors, The Other
Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent, 2002, New Press.
This chart is from Johnston's Archive. While it only accounts for Israeli
deaths from terrorism, it provides a graphic indication of how hostilities
have varied over time: note that the first intifada period (1988-92) is
little-if-any elevated over previous averages, that the 1994-96 period
corresponds to the early Oslo period saw a sharp rise as Israel escalated
its attacks on Hamas (and vice versa), and the tremendous increase in
terrorist activity after Sharon came to power.
The following is a table of deaths (killings of Israelis and Palestinians
by year, from data collected by B'Tselem.
Oslo II (Taba) Accords
Wye Memorandum, 1998
West Bank Final Status Proposal
Camp David, July 2000
Final Status Proposal
Taba, January 2001