365 / 14643 Results
  • December 31, 1999

    In Diniyya, Lebanon, mbrs. of the radical group Takfir wa al-Hijra ambush a Lebanese army patrol, killing 4 soldiers, kidnapping 2, wounding 3. The army deploys 3,000 soldiers to flush out the...

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  • December 30, 1999

    Israel releases another 7 Palestinian prisoners, all fr. East Jerusalem, to mark Ramadan. (CSM, NYT, WP 12/31; WJW 1/6; JP 1/7) (see 12/29)

    An Israeli journalist reports that Pres. Ezer...

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  • December 29, 1999

    In Tehran, Iran, Turkey close 2 days of general talks on their bilateral strategic relations. (ATL 12/29 in WNC 12/30)

    Israel frees 26 Palestinian prisoners to mark Ramadan. The PA says the...

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  • December 28, 1999

    Arafat arrives in Cairo for 2 days of talks with Pres. Mubarak, FM Musa on the peace process. (MENA 12/28 in WNC 12/29; MENA 12/28, 12/29 in WNC 12/30)

    Qatar recalls its envoy to the...

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  • December 27, 1999

    Barak holds talks with top officials, advisers regarding upcoming round of talks with Syria. Barak has not yet appointed the negotiating team, which is scheduled to begin mtgs. on 1/3. (AFP 12/27...

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  • December 26, 1999

    In Jerusalem, Italian PM D'Alema meets with PM Barak, announces that Italy is prepared to drop its opposition to Israel's membership in the UN's West Europe group, stresses that EU should play a...

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  • December 25, 1999

    Italian PM Massimo D'Alema, in Bethlehem to attend PA Christmas celebrations, meets with Arafat, announces that direct flights btwn. Gaza and Rome will begin this spring. (ANSA 12/26 in WNC 12/27...

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  • December 24, 1999

    Barak approves construction of 70 new housing units in 2 Golan Heights settlements, saying that as long as Israel has no agmt. with Syria, settlement expansion will continue. (NYT 12/25)

    ...

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  • December 23, 1999

    Lebanese PM Huss says that Lebanon will demand the return of 7 villages in Israel as part of a peace deal. (RL 12/23 in WNC 12/27)

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  • December 22, 1999

    Israel's Education M Katz sends a letter to principals of schools in the Golan Heights, urging them to open classroom discussions on the possible return of the Golan to Syria, saying that opinions...

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  • December 21, 1999

    Close to midnight, Barak goes to Ramallah to meet with Arafat to assure him that resumption of the Syrian-Israeli track will not derail negotiations with the PA. (This is the 1st time an Israeli...

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  • December 20, 1999

    In Ramallah, Israeli, PA final status teams meet but make no progress on the FAPS. The PA reportedly rejects Israel's demand that decision on final borders be based on Israel's security needs and...

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  • December 19, 1999

    After plans for the mtg. are leaked to the press, Arafat, Barak cancel a secret mtg. that they were to hold today in Jericho. (MM, NYT 12/22)

    Barak says that he wants upcoming negotiations...

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  • December 18, 1999

    Citing the "murky political situation" surrounding final status talks with Israel, Arafat postpones until 1/15 a crucial PLO Central Council (PLOCC) mtg., which was to take place on 12/20. (JT,...

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  • December 17, 1999

    Russian dep. FM Sredin arrives in Cairo on 2-day visit, discusses with FM Musa reviving multilateral talks. (ITAR-TASS, MENA 12/17, MENA 12/18 in WNC 12/20)

    The UN Security Council (UNSC)...

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  • December 16, 1999

    Israeli PM Barak, Syrian FM Shara` close 2 days of "friendly" talks in Washington, agree that teams will hold their 1st round of intensive negotiations 1/3+n9 in Washington. (MM 12/16; MM, NYT, WP...

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  • December 15, 1999

    The donors' Joint Liaison Comm. convenes in Gaza. (World Bank press release 2/1)

    The Israeli-Syrian talks resumes with a welcoming ceremony at the White House for Israeli PM Barak, Syrian...

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  • December 14, 1999

    Arafat makes 1-day trip to Cairo to consult with Pres. Mubarak on the peace process in light of the resumption of Syrian-Israeli talks. (MENA 12/14 in WNC 12/15)

    Before departing for...

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  • December 13, 1999

    PM Barak tells his cabinet that although he had made no new commitments to Syria in order to resume talks, he "would not erase" any promises made in previous negotiations under PMs Yitzhak Rabin,...

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  • December 12, 1999

    Secy. of State Albright says that mos. of behind-the-scenes contacts have narrowed gaps btwn. Syria, Israel on issues of territory, security, and future diplomatic, cultural, trade relations; the...

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  • December 11, 1999

    Egyptian FM Musa says that with the decision to resume Syrian-Israeli negotiations, it is now possible to resume multilateral talks. (MENA 12/11 in WNC 12/13)

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  • December 10, 1999

    Israeli security officials report that the PA police seized 660 lbs. of explosives and electronic equipment fr. a Hamas hideout in Hebron. (NYT 12/11)

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  • December 9, 1999

    The donors' Local Aid Coordination Comm. meets in Gaza. (World Bank press release 2/1)

    Secy. Albright ends her visit to the Middle East with a mtg. with Egyptian pres. Mubarak in Sharm al-...

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  • December 8, 1999

    Secy. Albright briefs PM Barak on her mtg. with Syrian pres. Asad, then meets with Arafat in Ramallah. She presents both Barak and Arafat with a rough time line for concluding a FAPS. (MM 12/8;...

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  • December 7, 1999

    In Damascus, Secy. of State Albright holds 3 hrs. of talks with Pres. Hafiz al-Asad on resuming Syrian-Israeli negotiations. Asad gives "new clarifications on important points" that Albright will...

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  • December 6, 1999

    U.S. Secy. of State Albright arrives in Saudi Arabia on the 1st leg of her 5-day tour of the Middle East to nudge the peace process forward. (CSM, MM, WP 12/7; WJW 12/9; MEI 12/10)

    U.S....

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  • December 5, 1999

    An Israeli FMin. delegation arrives in Egypt for talks on bilateral relations, the peace process. (MENA 12/5 in WNC 12/6)

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  • December 4, 1999

    PA chief negotiator for final status talks Yasir`Abid Rabbuh goes to Cairo to brief FM Musa on interim and final status talks with Israel. (MENA 12/4 in WNC 12/6)

    Arafat hosts tree-lighting...

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  • December 3, 1999

    Arafat says final status talks with Israel are deadlocked, accuses Israel of using talks as a cover for settlement expansion, urges U.S. intervention. (WP, WT 12/4) (see 12/2)

    In Nablus,...

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  • December 2, 1999

    PM Barak says Israel will not accept PA demands to redraw the maps for the 2d stage of the 2d FRD. (al-Quds 12/3 in WNC 12/7)

    In Cairo, Orient House head Faisal Husseini holds talks...

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In Diniyya, Lebanon, mbrs. of the radical group Takfir wa al-Hijra ambush a Lebanese army patrol, killing 4 soldiers, kidnapping 2, wounding 3. The army deploys 3,000 soldiers to flush out the rebels. Until now the government considered the group, which surfaced 2-3 yrs. ago and has an estimated 150-300 mbrs., to be disorganized and insignificant. (WP, WT 1/2; RL 1/2 in WNC 1/3; MM 1/4; GIU 1/7; MEI 1/14)

Israel releases another 7 Palestinian prisoners, all fr. East Jerusalem, to mark Ramadan. (CSM, NYT, WP 12/31; WJW 1/6; JP 1/7) (see 12/29)

An Israeli journalist reports that Pres. Ezer Weizman did not report receiving $453,000 fr. French executive Edouard Saroussi fr. 1988 to 1993, when he was an MK and cabinet minister. Weizman says money was a personal gift fr. a friend who has no connections to Israel, therefore he did not have to report it. (NYT 1/4; MM 1/5; JP 1/7; WP 1/10; MEI, MM 1/14; WT 1/16; WJW 1/20; JP 1/21)

In s. Lebanon, a car bomb is detonated nr. an IDF convoy, killing the unidentified bomber, injuring 1 IDF soldier and 12 Lebanese civilians (including 7 children). Hizballah claims responsibility. (NYT, WP, WT 12/31; RL 12/31 in WNC 1/2)

In Tehran, Iran, Turkey close 2 days of general talks on their bilateral strategic relations. (ATL 12/29 in WNC 12/30)

Israel frees 26 Palestinian prisoners to mark Ramadan. The PA says the small number of prisoners is proof that Israel is not serious about negotiations. (NYT, WP 12/30; al-Quds 12/30 in WNC 1/2; JP 1/7)

Israel approves construction of more than 50 new housing units in 2 Golan Heights settlements. Syria says it "is a step that cannot be categorized under good intentions." (WP 12/30)

The IDF demolishes a shrine at the grave of Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Muslims in Hebron's al-Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994. 10s of settlers attempt to block the soldiers. (NYT, WP, WT 12/30)

Israeli police arrest an Israeli Arab as he tries to enter al-Aqsa Mosque carrying a submachine gun and bag of ammunition. (NYT 12/30; WT 12/31)

Arafat arrives in Cairo for 2 days of talks with Pres. Mubarak, FM Musa on the peace process. (MENA 12/28 in WNC 12/29; MENA 12/28, 12/29 in WNC 12/30)

Qatar recalls its envoy to the occupied territories to protest the PA's handling of the Abu Issa embezzlement dispute. (WT 12/29; JP 1/7; MEI 1/28) (see 12/24)

In another gesture before resuming talks with Syria, Israel hands over to Lebanon the bodies of 2 Hizballah mbrs. killed 12/9 in fighting in s. Lebanon. (NYT 12/29; JP 1/7) (see 12/27)

Shas agrees not to quit the governing coalition after Barak budgets $13 m. for its religious schools. (CSM, NYT, WP 12/29; JP 1/7) (see 12/27)

Barak holds talks with top officials, advisers regarding upcoming round of talks with Syria. Barak has not yet appointed the negotiating team, which is scheduled to begin mtgs. on 1/3. (AFP 12/27 in WNC 12/29)

The Shas party threatens to leave Barak's governing coalition if he does not approve funding in the FY 2000 budget for its religious schools, which are $24 m. in debt. If Shas shifts its 17 Knesset seats to the opposition, Barak would be left with a minority government that might not be able to win a referendum on a peace deal with Syria. (XIN 12/27 in WNC 12/29; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 12/28)

In Tel Aviv, annual 2-day strategic mtgs. btwn. Israel, Turkey begin. Israel assures Turkey that a peace deal with Syria would not harm Turkish interests. A Jordanian observer attends. (ATL 12/27 in WNC 12/28; ATL 12/29 in WNC 12/30)

Barak forbids the Supreme Planning Council in the Israeli Civil Administration to meet unless its agenda has been approved in advance by him or someone appointed by him. Peace activists had disclosed that the council had approved 2,757 new units in West Bank settlements despite Barak's 12/7 decision to suspend settlement expansion until 2/00 to facilitate FAPS talks. (WT 12/28)

PA military court sentences to death a PA Preventive Security Force officer Hashim Abu Nahil for the murder of Ayman Abu Nahil during a family feud on 11/23. This is the 27th death sentence issued by the military court since it was set up in 1994. (LAW 12/28; al-Quds 12/28 in WNC 12/30; al-Quds 12/29 in WNC 1/2; JP 1/7)

In Jerusalem, Italian PM D'Alema meets with PM Barak, announces that Italy is prepared to drop its opposition to Israel's membership in the UN's West Europe group, stresses that EU should play a greater role in the peace process, urges against continued settlement expansion. (ANSA 12/26, 12/27 in WNC 12/27)

In a deal brokered by Germany, Israel frees 5 Hizballah mbrs. whom it seized in Lebanon btwn. 1986 and 1989 and was holding without trial; returns them to Lebanon as a goodwill gesture before the resumption of Syrian-Israeli talks. (AFP, RL 12/26 in WNC 12/27; NYT, WP, WT 12/27; RL 12/27 in WNC 12/28; SA 1/30 in WNC 1/31)

In Cairo, Egyptian FM Musa receives Amb. of Palestine to the UN Naseer al-Kidwa for talks on the peace process. Kidwa says that Israel should be allowed to join the UN Asian states regional group, rather than the Western European group, but only if it refrains fr. violating UN resolutions and makes peace with its neighbors. (MENA 12/26 in WNC 12/28)

Italian PM Massimo D'Alema, in Bethlehem to attend PA Christmas celebrations, meets with Arafat, announces that direct flights btwn. Gaza and Rome will begin this spring. (ANSA 12/26 in WNC 12/27; al-Quds 12/27 in WNC 12/29)

In Amman, PA, Jordanian trade Ms hold talks on transportation, agricultural cooperation; prepare for planned 3-way trade mtg. with Israel. (JT 12/27 in WNC 12/28)

A Hizballah mbr. is killed, an SLA mbr. is wounded in clashes in s. Lebanon. (RL 12/25 in WNC 12/27; WP 12/26)

Barak approves construction of 70 new housing units in 2 Golan Heights settlements, saying that as long as Israel has no agmt. with Syria, settlement expansion will continue. (NYT 12/25)

Israel announces that PM Barak will lead a 5 mbr. steering comm. on talks with Lebanon, which Israel hopes will open within wks. (NYT, WT 12/25)

Artillery exchanges in s. Lebanon resume after an undeclared 3-day cease-fire, requested by the Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group (ILMG) to allow the UN and Red Cross to collect the bodies of 5 Hizballah mbrs. killed in recent fighting. The cease-fire is the longest in s. Lebanon in 20 yrs. (NYT, WT 12/25; JP 12/31)

A briefcase containing a pipe bomb explodes in Natanya bus station in Israel. No one is injured, no suspects are detained. (NYT 12/25)

PA police surround the Qatari diplomatic mission in Gaza, where Issam Abu Issa, a Qatari citizen and the fmr. head of privately run Palestine International Bank (PIB), has sought refuge. The PA seeks his arrest on embezzlement charges. (AFP 12/24 in WNC 12/27; SA 12/26 in WNC 12/28; MEI 1/28)

Lebanese PM Huss says that Lebanon will demand the return of 7 villages in Israel as part of a peace deal. (RL 12/23 in WNC 12/27)

Israel's Education M Katz sends a letter to principals of schools in the Golan Heights, urging them to open classroom discussions on the possible return of the Golan to Syria, saying that opinions supporting and opposing withdrawal as a condition of peace should be presented. (NYT 12/23)

Close to midnight, Barak goes to Ramallah to meet with Arafat to assure him that resumption of the Syrian-Israeli track will not derail negotiations with the PA. (This is the 1st time an Israeli PM has entered the PA-controlled areas.) After 3 hrs. of talks, Barak and Arafat say they expect their negotiators, who did not attend the mtg., to resolve within a wk. differences on the 2d stage of the 2d FRD, a Palestinian prisoner release to mark Ramadan; plan to hold more 1-on-1 mtgs. in the nr. future. (MM 12/21; NYT 12/22; MENA 12/22 in WNC 12/23 NYT, WP 12/23; al-Quds 12/24 in WNC 12/28)

In Ramallah, Israeli, PA final status teams meet but make no progress on the FAPS. The PA reportedly rejects Israel's demand that decision on final borders be based on Israel's security needs and continued Israeli sovereignty over settlements. (CSM 12/21)

Syrian FM Shara` stops in Beirut to brief Lebanese leaders on the Washington talks with Israel. (RL 12/20 in WNC 12/21)

Arafat arrives in Amman for 2-day visit to brief King Abdallah on talks with Israel, discuss Arab coordination in light of the resumption of the Syrian-Israeli talks. Arafat asks the king to intervene with Syria to improve PA-Syrian relations, encourage coordination on their negotiating tracks. Arafat would like hold a 5-way summit among Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the PA, Syria. (AYM, al-Quds 12/20 in WNC 12/22; al-Quds 12/21, JT 12/22 in WNC 12/23; AYM 12/21 in WNC 12/27; JT 12/28 in WNC 12/29)

After plans for the mtg. are leaked to the press, Arafat, Barak cancel a secret mtg. that they were to hold today in Jericho. (MM, NYT 12/22)

Barak says that he wants upcoming negotiations with Syria to focus on security, normalization before dealing with final borders, water; says Israel's aim is to reach a "core agmt.," which he defines as something more than a declaration principles and less than a full peace treaty. (MM, NYT, WT 12/20; MEI 12/24)

Mbrs. of Israel's client militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), petition Israel's High Court to grant them refuge in Israel if IDF troops are withdrawn fr. s. Lebanon as planned in 7/00. (WP 12/20)

Arafat releases on $75,000 bail 6 Palestinians who signed the Petition of the 20; the 6 also sign a pledge to appear at police stations if summoned. 2 others are still in jail--`Abd al-Sattar Qassim, whom the PA has singled out as "the main culprit" behind the petition, and Ahmad Shakir Dudin, who refused to sign the pledge. (LAW, NYT 12/20; WJW 12/23; MEI 12/24; JP 12/31)

Citing the "murky political situation" surrounding final status talks with Israel, Arafat postpones until 1/15 a crucial PLO Central Council (PLOCC) mtg., which was to take place on 12/20. (JT, al-Quds 12/19 in WNC 12/21; AYM 1/5 in WNC 1/6)

Pres. Clinton renews 6-mo. waiver of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which calls on the U.S. to move its emb. in Israel fr. Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or face cuts to the State Dept. budget. (MM 12/22; WJW 12/30; JP 12/31)

Iraq rejects the UNSC plan for resuming arms inspections, easing sanctions. (NYT, WP, WT 12/19; MM 1/5; MEI 1/14)

In Beirut, Iran, Lebanon hold talks on expanding tourism, scientific, cultural exchanges. (IRNA 12/18 in WNC 12/20)

Russian dep. FM Sredin arrives in Cairo on 2-day visit, discusses with FM Musa reviving multilateral talks. (ITAR-TASS, MENA 12/17, MENA 12/18 in WNC 12/20)

The UN Security Council (UNSC) votes (Britain, U.S. for; China, France, Russia abstaining) to create a new arms inspection system for Iraq, with the promise to Pres. Saddam Hussein that sanctions could be suspended within a yr., eventually lifted if he complies. If Iraq accepts the deal, the UN would immediately remove the ceiling on Iraqi oil sales under the Oil-for-Food program, ease some controls on imports of medical, agricultural, educational goods. (NYT, WP, WT 12/18; LPA 12/18 in WNC 12/20; MM 12/20; AYM 12/20 in WNC 12/22; MEI 1/14)

Israeli PM Barak, Syrian FM Shara` close 2 days of "friendly" talks in Washington, agree that teams will hold their 1st round of intensive negotiations 1/3+n9 in Washington. (MM 12/16; MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/17; ITAR-TASS 12/17 in WNC 12/20; IRNA, al-Quds, SA 12/20 in WNC 12/21; JP, MEI 12/24)

In Washington, Orthodox Jews protest outside the White House, objecting to any return of the Golan Heights to Syria. (WT 12/17)

In Gaza, Russian dep. FM Sredin hands Arafat a message fr. Pres. Boris Yeltsin, discusses the peace process. (ITAR-TASS 12/16 in WNC 12/17)

In s. Lebanon, 3 IDF shells strike an elementary school, wounding 20 Lebanese children. Israel apologizes for the attack, which marks the 4th time the school has been hit by errant IDF shells over the yrs. Hizballah says it will not retaliate in light of the Syrian-Israeli negotiations ongoing in Washington. (AFP, RL 12/16 in WNC 12/17; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/17; DUS, ITAR-TASS, RL 12/17 in WNC 12/20; NYT 12/18; MEI 12/24)

The PA General Intelligence Service mbrs. detain, severely beat PC mbr. `Abd al-Jawad Salih for participating in a sit-in protest outside Jericho prison where several signers of the Petition of the 20 are still being held. (LAW 12/16; AYM 12/20, al-Quds 12/22 in WNC 12/23; MEI 12/24)

Pakistan extradites to Jordan for questioning a suspected Bin Laden associate Khalil Deek, the 14th person arrested for plotting attacks on tourists. (WP 12/18; JT 12/18, The News [Islamabad] 12/18, 12/19 in WNC 12/20) (see 12/13)

Iraq resumes oil exports. (WT 12/17) (see 11/22)

The donors' Joint Liaison Comm. convenes in Gaza. (World Bank press release 2/1)

The Israeli-Syrian talks resumes with a welcoming ceremony at the White House for Israeli PM Barak, Syrian FM Shara` hosted by Pres. Clinton. While Clinton and Barak speak briefly and optimistically of possibility of accord, Shara` gives a prepared address welcoming talks but listing Syria's grievances (see Doc. A5). Afterward, Clinton meets with Barak, Shara` together and then separately. Both men also meet privately with Secy. Albright, who then takes them to Blair House, where they discuss procedural matters, with Albright and special envoy Ross on hand. (CSM, MM 12/15; SA, XIN 12/15 in WNC 12/16; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/16; al-Quds 12/16 in WNC 12/20; AYM 12/16, IRIB Television [Tehran] 12/20 in WNC 12/21; MM 12/20, 12/21; JP, MEI 12/24)

At a cabinet mtg., Lebanese PM Huss says that Dep. PM Michel al-Murr will head the Lebanese delegation in talks with Israel when needed. (RL 12/15 in WNC 12/16; RL 12/16 in WNC 12/17; RL 12/18, 12/19 in WNC 12/20; MEI 1/14)

Interior M Natan Sharansky's Yisrael Ba'Aliya party, Housing M Yitzhak Levy's National Religious Party say the may pull out of Israel's coalition government if Barak agrees to return the Golan to Syria. Their departure would leave Barak with control of 59 of 120 Knesset seats. (NYT 12/16)

In Amman, King Abdallah, Russian dep. FM Sredin discuss the peace process. Sredin then leaves for Israel, where he meets with Israeli pres. Weizman. (ITAR-TASS 12/15 in WNC 12/16; ITAR-TASS 12/16 in WNC 12/17)

Jordan announces that the 13 Arabs (11 Jordanians, an Iraqi, an Algerian) recently arrested for plotting attacks against U.S. targets in the Middle East (see 12/13) were detained in the kingdom. Several others are wanted for questioning. (WP, WT 12/16; AFP, JT, SA 12/16 in WNC 12/17; CSM, WP 12/17; SA 12/17, JT 12/18, SA 12/19 in WNC 12/20; JT 1/6 in WNC 1/7)

Arafat makes 1-day trip to Cairo to consult with Pres. Mubarak on the peace process in light of the resumption of Syrian-Israeli talks. (MENA 12/14 in WNC 12/15)

Before departing for Washington, PM Barak meets with Golan settler leaders. Barak's entire cabinet, which is divided on negotiations with Syria, sees him off at the airport. (MM 12/14; NYT 12/15)

On the anniversary of the annexation of the Golan Heights, Druze residents of Majdal Shams, on the Golan, hold a rally in support of Syria in the upcoming negotiations with Israel. (WP, WT 12/15)

PM Barak tells his cabinet that although he had made no new commitments to Syria in order to resume talks, he "would not erase" any promises made in previous negotiations under PMs Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, or Benjamin Netanyahu. (CSM, NYT, WP 12/14)

At the Knesset, PM Barak gives a speech, telling Israelis to prepare to pay "a heavy territorial price" for peace with Syria. After 7 hrs. of debate, MKs pass (47-31, with 24 abstentions, 18 absent) a vote of confidence giving Barak a mandate to negotiate with Syria. 1,000s of Golan settlers demonstrate outside. (CSM, MM, NYT, WP 12/14; CSM 12/15; WJW 12/16)

Russian dep. FM Sredin arrives in Amman for a 2-day visit. He discusses the peace process with the Russian rep. to the PA and Russian ambs. to Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria. (ITAR-TASS 12/14 in WNC 12/15)

In Bayt Awa, nr. Hebron, IDF commandos searching for 2 wanted Hamas mbrs. storm a house, killing 2 Palestinians, arresting 3. DM Efraim Sneh admits that there was a "contract" out for 1 of the men for killing an undercover Israeli border policeman in 1/99. (WT 12/14; NYT, WP 12/15; VIRI 12/15 in WNC 12/16; LAW 12/16; JP, MEI 12/24)

The U.S. reports the arrest in the Middle East of 13 mbrs. of a suspected terrorist group with links to Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden that was believed to be planning New Year's attacks around the world. (NYT, WP 12/14; WT 12/15)

Secy. of State Albright says that mos. of behind-the-scenes contacts have narrowed gaps btwn. Syria, Israel on issues of territory, security, and future diplomatic, cultural, trade relations; the cumulative effect of the exchanges made each side confident that they now have a real chance to reach an agmt. (WP 12/13)

In Damascus, Syrian FM Shara` says that he is "so optimistic [as] to say that a few months could be enough to reach a peace agreement" with Israel. In Israel, PM Barak tells his cabinet he thinks an agreement could we reached in a few wks. (NYT, WT 12/13)

Egyptian FM Musa makes 1-day trip to Damascus to give Syrian FM Shara` a message fr. Pres. Mubarak to Pres. Asad, to discuss the peace process. (MENA 12/12 in WNC 12/13; NYT 12/13)

Vowing to block efforts by PM Barak to trade land for peace with Syria, Jewish settlers inaugurate new 390 unit neighborhood in Qatzrin, the largest Golan settlement. There are 17,000 settlers on the Golan. (CSM, WT 12/13)

Israel informs the PA that it will not release any Palestinian prisoners to mark Ramadan until Barak returns fr. talks with Shara` in Washington. Almost 2,000 Palestinians are still in Israeli jails. (AFP 12/12 in WNC 12/13)

In Beirut, Russian dep. FM Sredin holds talk with Lebanese PM Huss on the resumption of Syrian-Israeli talks. (ITAR-TASS 12/12 in WNC 12/13)

Egyptian FM Musa says that with the decision to resume Syrian-Israeli negotiations, it is now possible to resume multilateral talks. (MENA 12/11 in WNC 12/13)

Israeli security officials report that the PA police seized 660 lbs. of explosives and electronic equipment fr. a Hamas hideout in Hebron. (NYT 12/11)

The donors' Local Aid Coordination Comm. meets in Gaza. (World Bank press release 2/1)

Secy. Albright ends her visit to the Middle East with a mtg. with Egyptian pres. Mubarak in Sharm al-Shaykh. Afterward, Albright says that the U.S., Egypt are in agreement that multilateral talks should resume quickly. (MENA 12/9 in WNC 12/10; JP 12/17)

PM Barak says he thinks that a peace agmt. with Syria could be completed in a few mos. (NYT 12/10)

In s. Lebanon, 2 Hizballah mbrs. are killed in a clash with the IDF. (RL 12/9 in WNC 12/13)

Secy. Albright briefs PM Barak on her mtg. with Syrian pres. Asad, then meets with Arafat in Ramallah. She presents both Barak and Arafat with a rough time line for concluding a FAPS. (MM 12/8; NYT 12/9; AYM 12/9 in WNC 12/14; MM 12/13; MEI 12/24)

Hrs. later in Washington, Pres. Clinton announces that Israel, Syria have agreed to resume negotiations. PM Barak, Syrian FM Faruq al-Shara` will hold an initial mtg. next wk. in Washington, to be followed immediately by intensive negotiations at an as yet undermined location. (MM 12/8; MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/9; AFP, DUS, Interfax, MENA, RL, SA, XIN 12/9 in WNC 12/10; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/10; WP 12/13)

Pres. Clinton, PM Barak both phone Arafat to assure him that the resumption of the Syrian-Israeli track will not affect progress on the PA-Israeli track. (WP 12/9; AYM 12/9, 12/11 in WNC 12/14; MM 12/13)

Syrian pres. Asad phones Lebanese pres. Emile Lahoud, PM Huss to coordinate positions in advance of Syrian-Israeli talks. They agree that neither Syria nor Lebanon will make a separate peace with Israel. (NYT 12/9; RL 12/9 in WNC 12/10; NYT 12/10)

In light of the announcement on the Syrian-Israeli talks, Russia calls for multilateral talks, which began in 1992 but stalled in 1996, to resume as soon as possible; offers to host a steering comm. mtg. (Interfax 12/9 in WNC 12/10)

In Amman, 100s of Jordanian university students hold a rally to protest the government decision to deport 4 Hamas leaders on 11/21. (SA 12/9 in WNC 12/10)

In Beirut, a group calling itself the World Islamic Front urges attacks on Russian embs. worldwide to protest Russia's war in the breakaway Muslim republic of Chechnya. (SA 12/9 in WNC 12/10)

In Damascus, Secy. of State Albright holds 3 hrs. of talks with Pres. Hafiz al-Asad on resuming Syrian-Israeli negotiations. Asad gives "new clarifications on important points" that Albright will relay to PM Barak when she arrives in Israel. (MM 12/7; MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/8; JT, SA 12/9 in WNC 12/10)

Just before Albright arrives, Barak announces that he will not allow work on new settlement housing units approved on 11/26, 12/2 begin or approve new units until 2/00, so as to defuse tensions while Israel and the PA attempt to conclude the FAPS. (MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/8; JP 12/17)

Jordan's State Security Court decides not to press charges against a 19-yr.-old man who fired a toy gun outside the Israeli emb. in Amman, concluding that he is mentally disturbed, suicidal. (JT 12/8 in WNC 12/9) (see 11/23)

In s. Lebanon, 1 Lebanese 3 Syrian laborers irrigating a fruit grove are killed by IDF shelling. (RL 12/7 in WNC 12/8)

U.S. Secy. of State Albright arrives in Saudi Arabia on the 1st leg of her 5-day tour of the Middle East to nudge the peace process forward. (CSM, MM, WP 12/7; WJW 12/9; MEI 12/10)

U.S. special envoy Ross arrives in Israel to prepare for Albright's visit later this wk. He meets with the Israeli, and PA teams to try to bridge the impasse over FRD implementation. (WP, WT 12/7; MM 12/8; MEI 12/10)

PA chief negotiator `Abid Rabbuh cancels the day's planned round of talks, saying the PA will no longer discuss anything with Israel except the settlements. (MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/7; AYM, al-Quds 12/7, al-Quds 12/8 in WNC 12/9; WJW 12/9; MEI 12/10) (see 12/3)

Iran, Syria sign a media cooperation agmt. (IRNA 12/6 in WNC 12/7)

The U.S. grants QIZ status to the Jordanian industrial city of Dulayl. (JT 12/7 in WNC 12/8)

An Israeli FMin. delegation arrives in Egypt for talks on bilateral relations, the peace process. (MENA 12/5 in WNC 12/6)

PA chief negotiator for final status talks Yasir`Abid Rabbuh goes to Cairo to brief FM Musa on interim and final status talks with Israel. (MENA 12/4 in WNC 12/6)

Arafat hosts tree-lighting ceremony in Bethlehem, officially opening the PA's Bethlehem 2000 celebrations. (NYT, WT 12/5)

In Ramallah, 5,000 Palestinians hold a rally to mark the 51st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, call on PA to stop political detention, safeguard freedom of expression, uphold democracy and the rule of law, end corruption. (LAW 12/6)

Iraq rejects a 2d, week-long UN extension of the Oil-for-Food program; continues to suspend its oil exports. (WT 12/5) (see 11/22)

Arafat says final status talks with Israel are deadlocked, accuses Israel of using talks as a cover for settlement expansion, urges U.S. intervention. (WP, WT 12/4) (see 12/2)

In Nablus, 100s of Palestinians rally in support of PC mbr. Masri, who was wounded by masked gunmen on 12/1. (WP 12/4; WJW 12/9)

Elsewhere in the West Bank, IDF troops clash with 200 Palestinians demonstrating against Israeli settlement expansion, leaving 4 injured. (NYT 12/4)

Israel submits to Jordan a proposal that would allow direct ("door-to-door") transportation of goods fr. Jordan to the West Bank as of mid-1/00. (JT [Internet] 12/4)

In Irbid, 100s of Jordanians participate in a rally organized by the Islamic Action Front to urge the government to reconsider its deportation of 4 Hamas leaders on 11/21. (JT 12/4 in WNC 12/6) (see 11/26)

Several high-ranking Iranian clerics traveling to Washington on special State Dept. visas to participate in a Georgetown seminar are halted by U.S. customs officials in New York, who fingerprint, photograph, and subject them to racist insults. The delegation returns to Iran in protest. The State Dept. says only that mistakes were made. (WT 12/4) (see 11/22)

PM Barak says Israel will not accept PA demands to redraw the maps for the 2d stage of the 2d FRD. (al-Quds 12/3 in WNC 12/7)

In Cairo, Orient House head Faisal Husseini holds talks with FM Musa on the final status talks, Jerusalem. (MENA 12/2 in WNC 12/6)

Israel approves construction of another 493 new housing units in 2 West Bank Jewish settlements. (WP 12/6) (see 11/26)

In Haifa, 42 Palestinian companies hold a trade fair to market their goods to Israeli businessmen and consumers, to promote joint projects. (AYM 12/3 in WNC 12/8)

Overnight, settlers fr. Kiryat Arba uproot 400 grape vines on nearby Palestinian land. (NYT 12/3)