Overall Chronology

Overall Chronology

X. The Oslo Process And The Establishment Of The Palestinian Authority
19 January 1993 to 28 September 2000

Signing of the Agreement and Protocol of the Relationship between the Palestinian Authority and the Ministry of International Labor

Dr. Samir Ghosheh accompanied by Mr. Yasir Arafat and Minister of Social Affairs, Intisar al-Wazir, during the signing of the agreement and protocol of the relationship with the International Labor Organization.

The Palestinian Museum Digital Archive, Samīr Ghaushe Collection

The period 1993–99 was of historic importance for the Palestinian people. The 1993 Oslo accords and the subsequent establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in part of the West Bank and Gaza marked the first time that Palestinians had exercised a measure of autonomous national rule anywhere in Palestine. However, Israeli violence, settlement expansion, and a lack of progress in negotiations on key “final status” issues seriously hindered a process that was supposed to lead to a final peace settlement.

After the Madrid Conference ended, official Israeli-Palestinian talks that had begun in December 1991 dragged on inconclusively in Washington. Israel, under Labor Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, repealed the law banning contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on 19 January 1993. The following day, academics, authorized by the Israeli foreign ministry, began informal secret talks in Oslo, Norway with Ahmad Qurai‘ (Abu Ala’), director-general of the PLO Economic and Planning Department and coordinator of the Palestinian delegations to the Multilateral Talks (that were launched in Moscow in January 1992). Talks became official later in May, with the participation of Uri Savir from the Israeli foreign ministry. In accordance with the Madrid terms of reference, the talks focused on establishing interim self-government arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza, but in comparison with the Washington negotiations, they quickly involved pragmatic give-and-take and the drafting of a mutually acceptable text. In addition to a Declaration of Principles, the two sides agreed that the first step will be an Israeli redeployment from most of Gaza and the area around Jericho, to be followed by the establishment of an elected council and the broadening of its jurisdiction in the West Bank, except for Jerusalem, settlements, and military locations. Israel and the PLO would recognize one another formally and then continue with talks leading to a final peace treaty within five years.

The agreement was finalized on 20 August 1993 and signed in Washington on 13 September 1993 at the White House. On the eve of the signing, Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin exchanged letters of mutual recognition: the PLO recognized “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security,” and the Israeli government recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. In May 1994, the two sides signed the Cairo agreement that opened the way for the redeployment of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, the entry of PLO forces as the basis of the new police force, Arafat’s entry in Gaza, and the establishment of the PA. Less than five months later, Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty that contained Israel’s acknowledgement of Jordan’s special role in Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem.

In September 1995, the PLO and the Israeli government signed the Taba or Oslo II agreement that included the following provisions: election of the council; division of the West Bank into three areas (Area A to be under PA civil and security control; Area B where the PA would share security control with the Israelis; and Area C consisting of land not transferred to the PA and remaining under Israeli control); a first phase of Israeli redeployment from land to be transferred to Area A (main towns) or Area B (surrounding villages); and Israel’s commitment to further redeployment to “specified military locations” to be implemented in three phases within eighteen months of the inauguration of the elected Council.

Violence accompanied the Oslo process almost from its start. In February 1994, an Israeli settler shot and killed twenty-nine worshippers in Hebron’s al-Ibrahimi Mosque. Forty days later, Hamas (which opposed the negotiations) carried out its first suicide bombing inside Israeli territory in reprisal. On 4 November 1995, an Israeli Jew assassinated Rabin. Shimon Peres of the Labor Party assumed the position of prime minister, but in June 1996, he was replaced by the Likud Party’s Benjamin Netanyahu, an opponent of Oslo. In January 1996, while in office, Peres ordered the assassination of Yahya Ayyash, which provoked more Hamas bombings in Israel in February and March. Peres also ordered in April the Operation Grapes of Wrath in South Lebanon, which in particular led to the killing of more than a hundred Lebanese civilians in the village of Qana at a UN compound.

If the Oslo accords had had any chance of leading eventually to a final Palestinian-Israeli agreement, Netanyahu’s victory destroyed it from the start. All attempts were made toward this objective: intensifying construction of settlements (for instance, at Har Homa/Jabal Abu Ghunaym), opening a tunnel in the old city of Jerusalem (and provoking armed clashes between the Palestinian police and Israeli army), closing Palestinian institutions in the city, making new political demands (such as requesting that the Palestine National Council meet again to remove from the National Charter provisions contrary to mutual recognition), making security demands, renegotiating Oslo II terms, and delaying their implementation. Netanyahu, with the active participation of President Clinton, signed two agreements with Arafat (Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron, 16 January 1997; Wye River Memorandum, 23 October 1998), but he only partially implemented the latter. Labor’s Ehud Barak replaced Netanyahu in July 1999 and signed with Arafat the Sharm al-Shaykh Memorandum on 4 September 1999; the Palestinians ended up controlling only 17 percent of the West Bank as Area A and 25 percent as Area B, leaving under direct Israeli control 58 percent of the land, i.e. several times more than the surface area allowed by Oslo I and Oslo II interim agreements for settlements and military locations.

As for the final status talks, which were supposed to start not later than 5 May 1996,  they were postponed time and again, and no final peace deal was concluded by 4 May 1999, as stated in the original agreements. In any case, with the PA controlling only fragmented parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and Israel keeping overall control and access of people and goods to the PA territories, with settlement construction continuing unabated, and with sustained U.S. support of Israel, the Palestinians did not have the assets that would permit fruitful negotiations. By 2000, such imbalance in the permanent status talks led both to their failure and to the outbreak of the second intifada.

Meanwhile, the PA had been creating its self-government institutions. Public administration departments were established, drawing from civil servants who had worked under the Israeli military government, and from PLO Tunis bureaucrats. In January 1996, elections were held for the PA Presidency and a Legislative Council (PLC). Though the PLC was very active in drafting laws and a Basic Law and in debating issues of public interest, such as human rights and corruption, the PA also became increasingly authoritarian. It cracked down on opponents, especially from Hamas, and often ignored court rulings or resorted to special military courts. In addition, with Arafat and Fatah focused on running the PA and continuing the process of negotiations with Israel, and with the Damascus-based groups seemingly permanently alienated, the PLO as representing also the diaspora Palestinians virtually ceased functioning. Many Palestinians, even refugees in Syria and Lebanon, who had initially supported the Oslo accords and welcomed the establishment of the PA as a step toward Palestinian independence saw little hope in the whole Oslo process.



Selected Bibliography

Abbas, Mahmoud. Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo. Reading, UK: Garnet, 1995.

Brown, Nathan J. Palestinian Politics after the Oslo Accords: Resuming Arab Palestine. Los Angeles and Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Enderlin, Charles. Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace Process in the Middle East, 1995–2002. Translated by Susan Fairfield. New York: Other Press, 2002.

Halevi, Ilan. "Self-Government, Democracy, and Mismanagement under the Palestinian Authority.Journal of Palestine Studies 27, no.3 (Spring 1998): 35–48.

Hroub, Khaled. Hamas: Political Thought and Practice. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000.

Lia, Brynjar. A Police Force without a State: A History of the Palestinian Security Forces in the West Bank and Gaza. Reading, UK: Ithaca Press, 2006.

The Palestinian-Israeli Peace Agreement: A Documentary Record. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Parsons, Nigel Craig. From Oslo to al-Aqsa: The Politics of the Palestinian Authority. London: Routledge, 2003.

Said, Edward. The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After. New York: Vintage Books, 2000.

Overall Chronology
E.g., 2021/01/25
E.g., 2021/01/25
Event Date Subject
Knesset Repeals Law Banning Contact with the PLO 19 January 1993
Norwegian Secret Channel, Exploratory Stage 20 January 1993 - 9 May 1993
Palestinians Agree to Return to Washington Negotiations 20 April 1993
9th Negotiation Round, Washington 27 April 1993 - 13 May 1993
Norwegian Secret Channel, Official Stage 20 May 1993 - 20 August 1993
10th Negotiation Round, Washington 15 June 1993 - 1 July 1993
Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles Initialed and Approved 20 August 1993 - 30 August 1993
The Coalition of 10 Palestinian Organizations Reject the Palestinian-Israeli Accord, Damascus 2 September 1993
Mutual Recognition Between Israel and the PLO 9 September 1993 - 10 September 1993
Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles Signed in Washington 13 September 1993
PLO Central Council Meeting Is Held in Tunis 10 October 1993 - 12 October 1993
Start of Gaza-Jericho Negotiations, Taba 13 October 1993 - 8 December 1993
Start of Israel-PLO Economic Talks in Paris November 1993
Multilevel Gaza-Jericho Negotiations 12 December 1993 - 23 February 1994
Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel 30 December 1993
Hebron Massacre 25 February 1994 - 18 March 1994
SC Res. 904: Condemning the Massacre of Palestinian Worshippers in al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron 18 March 1994
Talks on Security for Palestinians in Hebron 20 March 1994 - 30 March 1994
Final Chapter of Gaza-Jericho Negotiations 31 March 1994 - 1 May 1994
Wave of Hamas and Islamic Jihad Attacks 6 April 1994 - 30 April 1994
PLO-Israel Protocol on Economic Relations Is Signed in Paris 29 April 1994
Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area Is Signed in Cairo 4 May 1994
Palestinian Decree N° 1 Reinstating Pre-1967 Laws in West Bank and Gaza 20 May 1994
Palestine National Authority (PNA) Holds First Official Meeting in Tunis 26 May 1994
Status of Orient House in Jerusalem 29 May 1994 - 7 June 1994
Arafat arrives in Gaza and Jericho 1 July 1994 - 5 July 1994
Early Empowerment Accord Is Signed 29 August 1994
Suicide Bombing in Tel Aviv 19 October 1994
Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty Signed near Aqaba 26 October 1994
Palestinian Police Shoot on Demonstrators in Gaza 18 November 1994 - 23 November 1994
Rabin, Peres, and Arafat Are Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo 9 December 1994
Settlement Activity Around Jerusalem 19 January 1995 - 1 February 1995
Islamic Jihad Suicide Bombing 22 January 1995 - 24 January 1995
Anti-Israeli Attacks and Inter-Palestinian Tension 2 April 1995 - 19 April 1995
Separation Fence 11 April 1995
Land Expropriation in Jerusalem 27 April 1995 - 3 May 1995
Draft SC S/1995/394 to Condemn Israeli Land Expropriation in Jerusalem Vetoed by the US 17 May 1995
Land Expropriation in Jerusalem Suspended 18 May 1995 - 22 May 1995
The Tragedy of the Palestinians in Libya 9 August 1995 - 13 January 1999
Israeli Restrictions on the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem 17 August 1995 - 31 August 1995
Further Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities 27 August 1995
Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II) 28 September 1995
US Congress Passes the "Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995" 23 October 1995 - 8 November 1995
Assassination of Fathi Shiqaqi, Islamic Jihad Leader, in Malta 26 October 1995
The Beilin-Abu Mazen Document 31 October 1995
Israeli Army Redeploys from Areas in the West Bank November 1995 - December 1995
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin Is Assassinated; Replaced by Shimon Peres 4 November 1995 - 22 November 1995
Assassination of Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas Leader 5 January 1996
Palestinian Presidential and Legislative Elections 20 January 1996
Suicide Bombings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem 25 February 1996 - 4 March 1996
Inauguration of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza 7 March 1996
Start of the Countdown for the Three-Phase Further Redeployment in the West Bank 7 March 1996
Redeployment from Hebron Delayed 28 March 1996
Israel Launches Operation Grapes of Wrath Against Lebanon 11 April 1996 - 26 April 1996
21st Palestine National Council Is Held in Gaza 22 April 1996 - 24 April 1996
Official Start of Permanent Status Negotiations, Taba 5 May 1996 - 7 May 1996
Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu Is Elected Prime Minister 29 May 1996 - 18 June 1996
Extraordinary Arab Summit in Cairo 21 June 1996 - 23 June 1996
First Netanyahu-Arafat Meeting 4 September 1996
Tunnel Opened by Israel in Old City, Jerusalem; Palestinian-Israeli Clashes 24 September 1996 - 28 September 1996
SC Res. 1073: Calling for the Reversal of all Acts (Opening of Western Wall Tunnel) Aggravating the Situation 28 September 1996
Clinton - Netanyahu - Arafat - Hussein Meeting in Washington 1 October 1996 - 2 October 1996
Protocol on Redeployment in Hebron Signed 6 October 1996 - 16 January 1997
Ambiguous and Weakened Assurances on Further Redeployment 16 January 1997
Har Homa/Jabal Abu Ghunaym Settlement to Be Constructed 26 February 1997
Palestinian Response to Har Homa/Jabal Abu Ghunaym Settlement Project 27 February 1997 - 10 April 1997
Draft SC Res. S/1997/199 to Call on Israel to Refrain from Settlement Activities (Jabal Abu Ghunaym) Vetoed by US 7 March 1997
First Phase of Further Redeployment Not Implemented 9 March 1997 - 12 March 1997
Palestinian-Israeli Talks Deadlocked 10 March 1997 - 30 July 1997
Draft SC Res. S/1997/241 to Demand that Israel Cease Construction of Jabal Abu Ghunaym Settlement Vetoed by US 21 March 1997
UNGA ES-10/2: Condemning Israel's Construction of Jabal Abu Ghunaym Settlement 25 April 1997
UNGA ES-10/3: Emphasizing Personal Responsibilities Arising from Grave Breaches of Geneva Convention 15 July 1997
Suicide Bombings in West Jerusalem: Israeli Reactions and Palestinian Measures 30 July 1997 - 25 September 1997
Israeli Settlement Activities Amid Attempts to Resume Talks 10 September 1997 - 6 November 1997
Attempted Assassination of Khalid Mishal in Amman; Ahmad Yasin Released 25 September 1997 - 1 October 1997
Israel's Position on Further Redeployment and on Palestinian Obligations 23 November 1997 - 14 January 1998
US Position on Further Redeployment and Palestinian Obligations 5 December 1997 - 3 September 1998
French-Palestinian Agreement on Status of French Institutions Under Palestinian Authority 12 December 1997 - 18 December 1997
33rd Zionist Congress Is Held in Jerusalem 23 December 1997 - 26 December 1997
Commemoration of the Nakba 50th Anniversary 14 May 1998 - 15 May 1998
Renewed Israeli Settlement Activities and Plans in East Jerusalem 25 May 1998 - 21 June 1998
UNGA Res. 52/250: Granting Palestine Additional Rights and Privileges at the GA 7 July 1998
Statement S/PRST/1998/21 by SC President against Israel Broadening Boundaries of Jerusalem 13 July 1998
Further Redeployment Talks Intensify 3 September 1998 - 28 September 1998
Wye River Plantation Meeting; Memorandum Signed 15 October 1998 - 23 October 1998
Several Palestinian Organizations Publicly Oppose Wye Memorandum 26 October 1998
Feverish Settlement Activities After Wye Memorandum 26 October 1998 - 15 November 1998
Israeli Obstacles to Wye River Implementation; First Stage Redeployment Only 30 October 1998 - 17 May 1999
Israel Releases the First Group of Prisoners Pursuant to Oral Understandings at Wye River 19 November 1998 - 20 November 1998
Inauguration of LVGR, the Gaza International Airport 20 November 1998 - 24 November 1998
PLO Central Council Meeting Is Held in Gaza 10 December 1998
President Clinton's Visit to Gaza 14 December 1998
Palestinian Popular Congress to Confirm Nullification Articles of National Charter, Gaza 14 December 1998
To Declare a Palestinian State at the End of the Transitional Period? 28 December 1998 - 25 April 1999
UNGA Res. ES-10/6: Recommending Holding a Conference to Enforce the 4th Geneva Convention in the OPT 9 February 1999
King Hussein Dies; Eldest Son Is Crowned King Abdallah II 17 February 1999
Orient House, Jerusalem and PLO Foreign Relations 1 March 1999 - 11 May 1999
European Union Declaration "Compensating" the PLO for Not Declaring a State 25 March 1999
Clinton's Letter of Assurance to Arafat as a "Compensation" for Not Declaring a State 26 April 1999
PLO Central Council Meeting Is Held in Gaza 27 April 1999 - 29 April 1999
End of the Oslo Five-Year Interim Period 4 May 1999
Ehud Barak Defeats Netanyahu to Become Prime Minister 17 May 1999
With Barak as Prime Minister, Negotiations on Wye Implementation Resume 11 July 1999 - 3 September 1999
Conference on the 4th Geneva Convention Affirms its Applicability to the OPT 15 July 1999
Palestinian Authority Crackdown Against Hamas 3 August 1999 - 26 August 1999
Sharm al-Shaykh Memorandum (Wye II Accord) 4 September 1999
Implementation of Sharm al-Shaykh Memorandum (Wye II) 10 September 1999 - 20 March 2000
Official Resumption of Final Status Talks 13 September 1999 - 6 December 1999
Abu Ali Mustafa, PFLP Deputy Secretary-General Returns to Palestine 30 September 1999
Official Colonization Activity and (Very) Partial Removal of Settler Outposts 10 October 1999 - 10 November 1999
Petition of the Twenty Denouncing the Palestinian Authority 27 November 1999 - 29 November 1999
Setting Up Israeli-Palestinian Back Channel 1 December 1999 - 5 May 2000
Revival and Failure of Syrian-Israeli Talks 7 December 1999 - 26 March 2000
Failure to Reach a FAPS by 13 February 2000 Target Date 8 December 1999 - 6 February 2000
PLO Central Council Meeting Is Held in Gaza 2 February 2000 - 3 February 2000
Commitments Not Implemented by Israel During the Transitional Period 9 February 2000
Vatican-PLO Agreement 15 February 2000
Mounting Malaise in the Palestinian Territories 17 February 2000 - 18 May 2000
FAPS Target Date Extended to 13 May: The Bolling Rounds 7 March 2000 - 20 April 2000
George Habash Retires as S-G of PFLP 27 April 2000 - 28 April 2000
Failure to Reach the FAPS by 13 May 2000 Target Date: Eilat Round 30 April 2000 - 8 May 2000
Mounting Anti-Israeli Mobilization 10 May 2000 - 20 May 2000
The Stockholm Back Channel - 1st Session 12 May 2000 - 15 May 2000
The Stockholm Back Channel - 2nd Session 18 May 2000 - 22 May 2000
Israel Carries a Full-Scale Withdrawal from South Lebanon 21 May 2000 - 24 May 2000
Israeli-Palestinian (Post-Stockholm) Back Channel 1 June 2000 - 3 June 2000
Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad Dies 10 June 2000 - 11 June 2000
Andrews and Bolling Rounds of Negotiation 13 June 2000 - 17 June 2000
PLO Central Council Meeting Is Held in Gaza 2 July 2000 - 3 July 2000
Clinton Invites Arafat and Barak to a Summit in Camp David 3 July 2000 - 11 July 2000
Failure of Final Status Talks at Camp David Summit 11 July 2000 - 25 July 2000
Undermining the Talks and Preparing for their Failure: The Settlers and the Israeli Army 15 July 2000 - 8 August 2000
Attempts to Revive Final Status Talks 16 August 2000 - 28 September 2000
The PA Releases First Batch of New Textbooks 2 September 2000
PLO Central Council Meeting Is Held in Gaza 9 September 2000 - 10 September 2000