Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founds Hamas amid the eruption of the First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza. The group's 1988 charter calls for Israel's destruction and the creation of an Islamist Palestinian state through violent jihad.
Emboldened by success in the Gulf War, U.S. President George H.W. Bush co-sponsors, with the Soviet Union, a conference in Madrid between Israel and Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinians, who meet with Israeli negotiators for the first time. The dialogue achieves little, but it creates a long-missing framework for talks.
Secret Israel-PLO talks in Norway yield the first deal between the two sides, the Oslo Accords. They recognize one another and chart a five-year plan for Israel to cede control of the territories to a new Palestinian Authority and Palestinian leaders to crack down on terrorism before a final peace agreement. Rabin and Jordan's King Hussein sign another peace treaty a year later.
Jewish extremist Yigal Amir assassinates Rabin, who in his second term had become a strong advocate of a two-state solution. The Oslo peace process sputters.
U.S. President Bill Clinton convenes Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David to address Oslo's thorniest issues: borders, security, settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem. But the talks collapse and the Second Intifada explodes in violence.
A May report by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell warns that the "greatest danger" in the Mideast is that "the culture of peace, nurtured over the previous decade, is being shattered." After the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush makes no mention of the peace process in his 2002 State of the Union address.
As the United States builds a coalition to go to war in Iraq, Bush becomes the first U.S. president to call explicitly for an independent Palestinian state. The Saudis present an Arab League-endorsed peace plan, and the so-called Quartet -- the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations -- unveils a "road map" for peace that puts security ahead of a political agreement.
With pessimism reaching new depths ("The peace process has no clothes," writes Mideast analyst Nathan J. Brown), Bush hosts a conference in Annapolis between Israel and its Arab neighbors that enshrines the two-state solution. Hamas, which has seized power in Gaza and split with its rival Palestinian faction, Fatah, is not invited.
An Israeli military offensive in Gaza wipes out dialogue between Israel's Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas.
U.S. President Barack Obama enters office promising to "actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace." After securing a hard-won, 10-month settlement freeze from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama hosts face-to-face talks but fails to obtain substantive concessions.
Survey source: Gallup
Obama enrages Netanyahu by proposing that new
negotiations start from pre-1967 borders with land swaps, while the
Palestinians pursue statehood at the United Nations in lieu of talks. As 2012
begins, Mideast negotiator Ross recalls what Israeli official Dan Meridor once
told him, "'The peace process is like riding a bicycle: When you stop pedaling,
you fall off.'" The Israelis and Palestinians, Ross says, "have
Survey source: Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research