Ehud Barak

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Posted by kaori 04/07/2009 @ 04:09

Tags : ehud barak, labour meimad, knesset, israel, middle east, world

News headlines
Haaretz poll: Netanyahu just as bad as Olmert, if not worse - Ha'aretz
Defense Minister Ehud Barak fared better, clinching a 60 percent approval rating, with only 27 percent of respondents unhappy. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz received the lowest approval rating, with only 18 percent saying they were pleased with his...
Barak: Time has come for comprehensive regional peace deal - Ha'aretz
By Haaretz Service Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that the conditions were right for a comprehensive regional peace agreement. Barak said at the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Washington visit that progress can and must be made...
MidEast Daily News - The Media Line
According to an Israeli radio report, Leon Panetta, director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), met secretly with Netanyahu, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and other senior officials two weeks ago. Panetta was told that "Israel does not...
Barak: Mubarak a stabilizing element - Ynetnews
"The prime minister's visit to Egypt is very important," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday. "Egypt, headed by President Mubarak, is a stabilizing, responsible and serious element within a very stormy Mideast reality, and we have valuable...
In sign of good relations, US envoy to fly on PM's plane - Jerusalem Post
Former US ambassador Martin Indyk frequently flew with then-prime minister Ehud Barak on his visits to the US. That practice ended, however, with Ariel Sharon's first trip to the US as prime minister in March 2001, when he did not invite Indyk to join...
Barak 'proud' to be part of budget - Ynetnews
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said following the approval of the State budget that he "congratulates Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who have done very important things by meeting us halfway....
Labor youth leaders: New Barak-allied group planning coup - Ha'aretz
By Mazal Mualem Labor youth movement leaders who have spearheaded opposition to party chairman Ehud Barak say he is advocating the formation of a new youth group within the party in order to purge them from its ranks. Last week a group of 280 people,...
Barak may seek to extend his term as leader of Labor - Jerusalem Post
By GIL HOFFMAN Labor chairman Ehud Barak will decide soon whether his party's next leadership primary should be held by next April or only in February 2012, sources close to Barak said Sunday. According to Labor's constitution, party primaries must be...
Barak: Turkish-Syrian drill 'disturbing' - Ynetnews
Barak also says Israel committed to bringing Gilad Shalit home Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the joint Turkish-Syrian maneuver launched Monday was a "disturbing development." Turkey and Syria staged their first joint military exercise,...

Ehud Barak

Ehud Barak

Ehud Barak (Hebrew: אֵהוּד בָּרָק (help·info), born Ehud Brog on 12 February 1942) is an Israeli politician, former Prime Minister, and current Minister of Defense, deputy prime minister and leader of Israel's Labor Party.

Barak served as the 10th Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001. After losing the 2001 election, Barak embarked on a business career. On 12 June 2007 he completed a political comeback by winning the Labor Party leadership election. He was appointed as Minister of Defense, replacing outgoing party leader Amir Peretz.

Prior to his political career he served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces. Following a highly decorated career he was appointed the 14th Ramatkal (Head of General Staff) of the IDF.

Barak was born on 12 February 1942 in kibbutz Mishmar HaSharon in Mandate Palestine. He is the eldest of four sons of Esther (née Godin) and Israel Brog. Ehud hebraized his family name from "Brog" to "Barak" in 1959, when he joined the Israeli army.

It was during his military service that he met his future wife, Naava. They had three daughters together. Ehud and Naava divorced in August 2003. On 30 July 2007 Ehud married Nili Priel in a small ceremony in his private residence.

Barak earned his bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1968, and his master's degree in engineering-economic systems in 1978 from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Ehud Brog joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1959. At that time he decided to change his name to "Barak", which means "lightning" or "shine" in Hebrew. He served in the IDF for 35 years, rising to the position of Chief of the General Staff and the rank of Rav Aluf, the highest in the Israeli military. During the Yom Kippur War, Barak commanded an improvised regiment of tanks which among other things, helped rescue paratrooper battalion 890 commanded by Yitzhak Mordechai who were suffering heavy losses in the Battle of the Chinese Farm.

During his service as a commando in the elite Sayeret Matkal, Barak led several highly acclaimed operations, such as: "Operation Isotope", the rescue mission to free the hostages onboard Sabena Flight 572 at Lod Airport in 1972; the 1973 covert mission Operation Spring of Youth in Beirut, in which he was disguised as a woman in order to assassinate members of the Palestine Liberation Organization; Barak was also a key architect of the June 1976 Operation Entebbe, another rescue mission to free the hostages of the Air France aircraft hijacked by terrorists and forced to land at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. These highly acclaimed operations, along with Operation Bayonet led to the dismantling of Palestinian terrorist cell Black September and a decline in international terrorism for over 20 years. It has been alluded that Barak also masterminded the Tunis Raid on April 16, 1988, in which PLO leader Abu Jihad was assassinated.

Later he served as head of Aman, the Military Intelligence Directorate (1983-1985), head of Central Command (1986 - 1987) and Deputy Chief of the General Staff (1987-1991). He served as Chief of the General Staff between April 1, 1991 and January 1, 1995. During this period he implemented the first Oslo Accords and participated in the negotiations towards the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace.

Barak is also an expert in krav maga, the official martial art of the Israeli Defense Forces.

As a politician, Barak served as Minister of the Interior (1995) and then as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1995-1996). He was elected to the Knesset in 1996, where he served as a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In 1996 Barak became the leader of the Labor Party.

Ehud Barak was elected Prime Minister of Israel on 17 May 1999. Barak sparked controversy by deciding to form a coalition with the haredi party Shas who had received an unprecedented 17 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Shas grudgingly agreed to Barak's terms that they eject their leader Aryeh Deri, a convicted felon, and enact reform to "clean up" in-party corruption. Consequentially, the left wing Meretz party quit the coalition after they failed to agree on the powers to be given to a Shas deputy-minister in the Ministry of Education.

In 1999 Barak gave a campaign promise to end Israel's 22-year long occupation of Southern Lebanon within a year. On May 24, 2000 Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon. On October the 7th, 2000, three Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah and then subsequently killed. The bodies of these soldiers, along with the living Elhanan Tenenbaum, were eventually exchanged for Lebanese captives in 2004. Barak inaugurated peace negotiations with the PLO, which ultimately proved fruitless. Barak also took part in the Camp David 2000 Summit which was meant to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but failed. Barak, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, and US president Bill Clinton placed the blame on Yasser Arafat. Barak claimed he exposed "Arafat's true intentions". Following the failure at Camp David, the Palestinian al-Aqsa Intifada (also known as the Second Intifada) erupted. Barak also allowed Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami to attend the Taba Summit with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, after his government had fallen.

Barak was in power during the appointment of the Tal committee which dealt with the controversial issue of haredi Jews' exemption from military service. Riots in October 2000 led to the killing of 12 Israeli-Arabs and 1 Palestinian by Israel Police and one Israeli-Jewish civilian by Israeli Arabs. In 1999–2000, Israel experienced high growth rates (GDP) relative to the economy’s past performance and by international standards.

In 2005, Barak announced his return to Israeli politics, and ran for leadership of the Labor Party in November. However, in light of his weak poll showings, Barak dropped out of the race early and declared his support for veteran statesman Shimon Peres.

After Peres lost the race to Amir Peretz and left the Labor party, Barak announced he would stay at the party, despite his shaky relationship with its newly elected leader. He declared, however, that he would not run for a spot on the Labor party's Knesset list for the March 2006 elections.

In January 2007 Barak launched a bid to recapture the leadership of the Labor party in a letter acknowledging "mistakes" and "inexperience" during his tenure as Prime Minister. In early March 2007, a poll of Labor Party primary voters put Barak ahead of all other opponents, including current leader Amir Peretz. In the first round of voting, on 28 May 2007, he gained 39% of the votes, more than his two closest rivals, but not enough to win the election.

As a result, Barak faced a runoff against the second-place finisher, Ami Ayalon, on June 12 2007, which he won by a narrow margin.

After winning back the leadership of the Labor party, Barak was sworn in as Minister of Defense on June 18, 2007, as part of Prime Minister Olmert's cabinet reshuffle. However on 1 July 2007, Barak led a successful effort in the Labor central committee to stipulate that Labor would leave the government coalition if Olmert did not resign by September or October 2007. At that time the Winograd Commission would publish its final report on the performance of the Israel Defense Forces and its civilian leadership. The preliminary Winograd report released earlier this year laid most of the blame on Olmert for poorly planning, executing, and reviewing war strategies in the 2006 conflict against Hezbollah.

During December 2008 through January 2009, Barak led (as defense minister) Operation Cast Lead.

Labor won only 13 out of the 120 Knesset seats in the 2009 Knesset Elections, making them the fourth largest party. Barak and other Labor Party officials intially stated they would not take part in the next government. However, over the objections of some in the Labor party, Barak later reached an agreement under which Labor joined the governing coalition. Barak retained his position as Defense Minister.

After losing the 2001 elections to Ariel Sharon, Barak left Israel to work as a senior advisor with U.S.-based Electronic Data Systems. He also partnered with a private equity company focused on "security-related" work.

In 2005, following his failed attempt to maintain leadership of the Labor party, Barak became a partner of the investment company SCP Private Equity Partners, Pennsylvania. He established a company "Ehud Barak Limited" which is thought to have made over NIS 30 million.

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Prime Minister of Israel

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The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and is the most powerful political officer in Israel (the title of President of Israel, despite being head of state, is an honorary position). He or she wields executive power in the country, and has an official residence in Jerusalem, the "Agion House", at the corner of Balfour and Smolenskin streets in Rehavia. The current Prime Minister is Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud, who was also the ninth person to hold the position (excluding caretakers).

Following an election, the President nominates a Prime Minister after asking party leaders whom they support for the position, though between 1996 and 2001 the Prime Minister was elected in a separate election to the rest of the Knesset. In Hebrew the position is called Rosh HaMemshala (Hebrew: ראש הממשלה‎, literally "Head of Government"), a term also applied to foreign Prime Ministers. Occasionally, the title of "Premier" is used when referring to the Prime Minister.

The office of Prime Minister came into existence on 14 May 1948, the date of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, when the provisional government was created. David Ben-Gurion, leader of Mapai and head of the Jewish Agency became Israel's first Prime Minister. The position became permanent on 8 March 1949, when the first government was formed.

Ben-Gurion retained his role until the late 1953, when he resigned in order to settle in the Kibbutz of Sde Boker. He was replaced by Moshe Sharret. However, Ben-Gurion returned in little under two years to reclaim his position.

He resigned for a second time in 1963, annoyed at a lack of support from colleagues, and broke away from Mapai to form Rafi. Levi Eshkol took over as head of Mapai and Prime Minister. He became the first Prime Minister to head the country under the banner of two parties when Mapai formed the Alignment with Ahdut HaAvoda in 1965. In 1968 he also became the only party leader to date to command an absolute majority in the Knesset, after Mapam and Rafi merged into the Alignment, giving it 63 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

On 26 February 1969, Eshkol became the first Prime Minister to die in office, and was temporarily replaced by Yigal Allon. However, Allon's stint as Interim PM lasted less than a month, as the party persuaded Golda Meir to return to political life and become Prime Minister in March 1969. Meir was Israel's first, and so far only female Prime Minister, and only the third female leader in the world (after Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Indira Gandhi).

Meir resigned from the post in 1974 after the Agranat Commission published its findings on the Yom Kippur War, even though it had absolved her of any blame. Yitzhak Rabin took over, though he also resigned towards the end of the eighth Knesset's term after a series of scandals including the suicide of Housing Minister Avraham Ofer after a police investigation began into allegations he used party funds illegally, Asher Yadlin (the governor-designate of the Bank of Israel) being found guilty of accepting bribes and sentenced to five years in prison, and Rabin's wife, Leah, being found to have an overseas bank account, illegal in Israel at the time.

Menachem Begin became the first right-wing Prime Minister when his Likud won the 1977 elections, and retained the post in the 1981 elections. He resigned in 1983 for health reasons, passing the reins of power to Yitzhak Shamir.

After the 1984 elections had proved inconclusive with neither the Alignment or Likud able to form a government, a national unity government was formed with a rotating Prime Ministership - Peres took the first two years, and was replaced by Shamir midway through the Knesset term.

Although the 1988 elections produced another national unity government, Shamir was able to take the role alone. Peres made an abortive bid to form a left-wing government in 1990, but failed, leaving Shamir to rule until 1992.

Rabin became the Prime Minister for the second time when he led Labour to victory in the 1992 elections. After his assassination on 4 November 1995, Peres took over as Prime Minister.

During the thirteenth Knesset, (1992–1996,) it was decided to have separate elections for Prime Minister in a style similar to American Presidential elections. This was an attempt to deal with the increasingly fragmented nature of the Knesset, which had 13 parties with six seats or less as a result of the 1988 elections (though ironically the 1992 elections had produced a Knesset with only 10 parties, which alongside the 1973 and 1981 elections was a record low; this was largely as a result of a few parties merging). The aim was to give more power to the head of the government by freeing the position of dependency upon the support of minor parties in the Knesset, which had previously been used to bring down governments over relatively trivial matters.

The first Prime Ministerial election took place in 1996 alongside simultaneous Knesset elections. The result was a surprise win for Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud, after early results suggested Peres would win, prompting the phrase "went to sleep with Peres, woke up with Netanyahu." However, the Knesset elections produced a win for Labour, meaning that despite his theoretical position of power, Netanyahu had to rely on the support of religious parties to form a viable government.

Ultimately Netanyahu failed to hold the government together, and early elections for both Prime Minister and the Knesset were called in 1999. Although five candidates announced their intention to run, the three representing minor parties (Benny Begin of Herut – The National Movement, Azmi Bishara of Balad and Yitzhak Mordechai of the Centre Party) dropped out before election day, and Ehud Barak beat Netanyahu in the election. However, the new system had failed again, as although Barak's One Israel party (an alliance of Labour, Gesher and Meimad) won the Knesset election, they garnered only 26 seats, the lowest ever by a winning party, meaning that a coalition with six smaller parties was once again necessary.

In early 2001, Barak resigned following the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada. However, the government was not brought down, and only elections for Prime Minister were necessary. In the election itself, Ariel Sharon comfortably beat Barak, taking 62.4% of the vote. However, because Likud only had 21 seats in the Knesset, Sharon had to form a national unity government. Following Sharon's victory, it was decided to scrap separate elections for Prime Minister and return to the previous system.

The 2003 elections were carried out in the same manner as prior to 1996. Likud won 38 seats, the highest by a party for over a decade, and as party leader Sharon was duly appointed PM. However, towards the end of his term and largely as a result of the deep divisions within Likud over Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, Sharon broke away from his party to form Kadima, managing to maintain his position as Prime Minister and also becoming the first Prime Minister not to be a member of either Labour or Likud (or their predecessors). However, he suffered a stroke in January 2006, in the midst of election season, leading to Ehud Olmert become Acting Prime Minister in the weeks leading to the elections. He was voted by the cabinet to be Interim Prime Minister, days after the 2006 elections, after Sharon reached 100 days of incapacitation, that required an appointment of an Interim Prime Minister (the pre-election Government alway continues to govern until a new one is sworn in) becoming Israel's third Interim Prime Minister,just days before forming his own new Government, in the aftermath of the elections, to become the official Prime Minister of Israel.

If the Prime Minister dies in office, the Cabinet chooses an Interim Prime Minister, to run the government until a new government is placed in power. Yigal Allon served as Interim Prime Minister following Levi Eshkol's death, as did Shimon Peres following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

According to Israeli law, if a Prime Minister is temporarily incapacitated rather than dies (as was the case following Ariel Sharon's stroke in early 2006), power is transferred to the Acting Prime Minister, until the PM recovers (Ehud Olmert took over from Sharon), for up to 100 days. If the Prime Minister is declared permanently incapacitated, or that period expires, the President of Israel oversees the process of assembling a new governing coalition, and in the meantime the Acting Prime MInister or other incumbent minister is appointed by the Cabinet to serve as Interim Prime Minister.

In the case of Sharon, elections were already due to occur within 100 days of the beginning of his coma thus the post-election coalition building process pre-empted the emergency provisions for the selection of a new Prime Minister. Nevertheless, Olmert was appointed Interim Prime Minister on 16 April 2006, after the elections, just days before he had formed a government on 4 May 2006, to become the official Prime Minister.

Aside from the position of Acting Prime Minister, there are also Vice Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers.

A total of twelve people have served as Prime Minister of Israel, five of whom have served on two non-consecutive occasions. Additionally, one person, Yigal Allon has served solely as an Interim Prime Minister. The other two who have served as Interim Prime Minister have gone on to become the Prime Minister.

1 In 1965 Mapai merged with Ahdut HaAvoda to form the Labour Alignment, later renamed Alignment.

2 Eshkol died while in office. Yigal Allon briefly served as acting prime minister until he was replaced by Meir.

3 Rabin resigned and called for early elections in December 1976. After he was re-elected as the Alignment's leader, he resigned as candidate for the upcoming elections on 7 April 1977, but continued to serve as prime minister until Begin's first government was formed.

4 After the 1984 elections, Likud and the Alignment reached a coalition agreement by which the role of prime minister would be rotated mid-term between them. Shimon Peres of the Alignment served as prime minister for the first two years, and then the role was passed to Yitzhak Shamir. After the 1988 election Likud was able to govern without the Alignment, and Yitzhak Shamir became prime minister again.

5 Rabin was assassinated while in office. Shimon Peres served as acting PM until 22 November 1995.

6 On 21 November 2005, PM Sharon, along with several other ministers and MKs, split from Likud over the issue of disengagement from the Gaza Strip and negotiations over the final status of the West Bank. Sharon formed a new party, Kadima, which would go on to compete in the following elections of March 2006. Sharon continued as Prime Minister.

7 As the result of Ariel Sharon suffering a severe stroke on 4 January 2006, and being put under general anaesthetic, Ehud Olmert served as the Acting Prime Minister (Hebrew: ממלא מקום ראש הממשלה בפועל‎) from 4 January to 14 April, according to Basic Law: The Government: "Should the Prime Minister be temporarily unable to discharge his duties, his place will be filled by the Acting Prime Minister. After the passage of 100 days upon which the Prime Minister does not resume his duties, the Prime Minister will be deemed permanently unable to exercise his office." Basic Law: the Governmet 2001, section 16b In Sharon's case, this occurred on 14 April 2006, upon which Olmert became Interim Prime Minister.

8 Olmert officially resigned on 21 September 2008. With this his cabinet became an interim government, and he was the "interim" prime minister until the establishment of a new governing coalition (he was officially the prime minister, however, the government under him was an interim government, in this case).

As of April 2009, five former Prime Ministers were alive, six if you include the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the oldest being Yitzhak Shamir. Shamir also has the longest life span of any PM. The most recent to die was Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated on 4 November 1995. Ariel Sharon has been in a persistent vegetative state since his stroke on 4 January 2006.

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Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel

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The Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel (Hebrew: שר החוץ‎, Sar HaHutz) is the political head of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The position is one of the most important in the Israeli cabinet after Prime Minister and Defense Minister. The current minister is Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu.

There is also occasionally a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

1 Following Moshe Dayan's resignation, Prime Minister Menachem Begin acted as Foreign Minister for six months until the appointment of Yitzhak Shamir.

² Barak was not a Member of the Knesset during his tenure as Foreign Minister.

³ Following David Levy's resignation, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acted as Foreign Minister for ten months until the appointment of Ariel Sharon.

4 Following David Levy's resignation, Prime Minister Ehud Barak acted as Foreign Minister for a week until the appointment of Shlomo Ben-Ami as Acting Foreign Minister. Ben Ami's position was made permanent in November 2000.

5 Following Shimon Peres' resignation, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon acted as Foreign Minister for four days until the appointment of Binyamin Netanyahu.

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Second Intifada

12-year-old Palestinian Muhammad al-Durrah became an icon of the Palestinian uprising in 2000 when he was killed on September 30, 2000 after being caught in a crossfire. Controversies continue over whether Palestinians or the Israeli Defense Forces killed him, or whether he even died at all.

The Second Intifada, also known as the al-Aqsa Intifada (Arabic: انتفاضة الأقصى‎, Intifāḍat El Aqṣa; Hebrew: אינתיפאדת אל-אקצה‎, Intifādat El-Aqtzah) was the second Palestinian uprising, a period of intensified Palestinian-Israeli violence, which began in late September 2000. "Al-Aqsa" is the name of a prominent Muslim mosque, constructed in the 8th century CE at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, a location considered the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam. "Intifada" (also transliterated Intifadah) is an Arabic word that literally translates into English as "shaking off". The death toll to date, including both military and civilian, is estimated to be almost 5,500 Palestinians and over 1,000 Israelis, as well as 64 foreign citizens.

The starting date of the Second Intifada is disputed. Some sources view the start of the uprising as September 27, 2000. Some view the start to be the September 28 2000 riots and injuries soon after Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount, an area known to Muslims as Al-Haram As-Sharif. Others believe it started a day later on Friday September 29, the day of prayers, when there was the introduction of police and military presence, and there were major clashes with deaths. Some Israelis believe that Yassir Arafat walked out on negotiations at the Camp David Summit in July 2000, and that the Second Intifada started then. They note that there were Israeli casualties as early as September 27; this is the Israeli "conventional wisdom", according to Dr. Jeremy Pressman, and the view expressed by the Israeli foreign ministry. Most mainstream media outlets have taken the view that the Sharon visit was the spark that triggered the rioting at the start of the Second Intifada. In the first five days after the visit, Israeli police and security forces killed 47 Palestinians and wounded 1885, while five Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David from July 11 to July 25, 2000 took place between United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. It failed with both sides blaming the other for the failure of the talks. There were four principal obstacles to agreement: territory, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, refugees and the 'right of return', and Israeli security concerns.

Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian parliament postponed the planned September 13, 2000 declaration of statehood for an independent Palestinian state.

On September 16 Palestinians commemorated the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre.

On September 27 Sergeant David Biri of the Israeli Defense Forces was critically injured in a bomb attack near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip. He died the next day.

Palestinians consider the Second Intifada to be a part of their ongoing struggle for national liberation, justice, and an end to Israeli occupation, whereas many Israelis consider it to be a "wave of Palestinian terrorism" instigated and pre-planned by then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Palestinian tactics have ranged from carrying out mass protests and general strikes, similar to the First Intifada, to armed attacks on settlers, civilians and security forces, suicide bombing attacks, and firing Qassam rockets into Israeli residential areas.

Israeli tactics have included paralysing Palestinians' movements through the setting up of checkpoints and the enforcement of strict curfews in certain areas, as a means of economic warfare. Infrastructural attacks against Palestinian Authority targets such as police and prisons was another Israeli method to force the Palestinian Authority to follow Israel's demand that it repress the anti-Israeli protests, and later, the attacks on Israeli targets, though in so doing Israel bombed the police it demanded do its bidding and the prisons to house those the Israelis wanted imprisoned. Aggressive riot control was designed to "restore deterrence" believed to be lost when Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon - more than 300 were killed in the first months of the uprising through this method alone, during a time when most Israeli civilian fatalities were Israeli Arabs.

It is also called the Oslo War (מלחמת אוסלו) by Israelis who consider it to be the result of concessions made by Israel following the Oslo Accords, and Arafat's War, after the late Palestinian leader whom some blame for starting it. Both Israelis and Palestinians have blamed each other for the failure of the Oslo peace process.

Under the Oslo Accords, Israel committed to the phased withdrawal of its forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and affirmed the Palestinian right to self-government within those areas through the creation of a Palestinian Authority. For their part, the Palestine Liberation Organization formally recognized Israel and committed to adopting responsibility for internal security in population centers in the areas evacuated. Palestinian self-rule was to last for a five-year interim period during which a permanent agreement would be negotiated. However, the realities on the ground left both sides deeply disappointed with the Oslo process.

In the five years immediately following the signing of the Oslo accords, 405 Palestinians were killed and 256 Israelis were killed, which for the latter represented a casualty count higher than that of the previous fifteen years combined (216, 172 of which were killed during the First Intifada).

In 1995, Shimon Peres took the place of Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated by Yigal Amir, a Jewish extremist opposed to the Oslo peace agreement. In the 1996 elections, Israelis elected a right-wing coalition led by the Likud candidate, Benjamin Netanyahu who was followed in 1999 by the Labor Party leader Ehud Barak.

While Rabin had limited settlement construction at the request of US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Netanyahu continued construction within existing Israeli settlements, and put forward plans for the construction of a new neighborhood, Har Homa, in East Jerusalem. However, he fell far short of the Shamir government's 1991-92 level and refrained from building new settlements, although the Oslo agreements stipulated no such ban. Construction of Housing Units Before Oslo: 1991-92 13,960, After Oslo: 1994-95 3,840 1996-1997 3,570.

Barak courted moderate settler opinion, with the aim of marginalizing the more militant wing, securing agreement for the dismantlement of 12 new outposts that had been constructed since the Wye River Agreement of November 1998, but the continued expansion of existing settlements with plans for 3,000 new houses in the West Bank, drew strong condemnation from the Palestinian leadership. Though construction within existing settlements was permitted under the Oslo agreements, Palestinian supporters contend that any continued construction was contrary to its spirit, prejudiced the outcome of final status negotiations, and undermined confidence in Barak's desire for peace. The Palestinians not only built in areas A & B as well as State lands that Israel ceded, but throughout area C administered by Israel.

Some have claimed that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority (PA) had pre-planned the Intifada. They often quote a speech made in December 2000 by Imad Falouji, the PA Communications Minister at the time, where he explains that the violence had been planned since Arafat's return from the Camp David Summit in July, far in advance of Sharon's visit (view video of the speech). He stated that the Intifada "was carefully planned since the return of (Palestinian President) Yasser Arafat from Camp David negotiations rejecting the U.S. conditions." David Samuels quotes Mamduh Nofal, former military commander of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who supplies more evidence of pre-September 28 military preparations. Nofal recounts that Arafat "told us, Now we are going to the fight, so we must be ready".

Starting as early as September 13, 2000, members of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement carried out a number of attacks on Israeli military and civilian targets, in violation of Oslo Accords. In addition, the Israeli agency Palestinian Media Watch alleged that the Palestinian official TV broadcasts became increasingly militant during the summer of 2000, as Camp David negotiations faltered.

From the perspective of the PLO, Israel responded to the disturbances with excessive and illegal use of deadly force against demonstrators; behavior which, in the PLO’s view, reflected Israel’s contempt for the lives and safety of Palestinians. For Palestinians, the widely seen images of Muhammad al-Durrah in Gaza on September 30, shot as he huddled behind his father, reinforced that perception.

The Sharon visit did not cause the "Al-Aqsa Intifada." But it was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen; indeed it was foreseen by those who urged that the visit be prohibited.

We have no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the PA to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity; or to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the to respond with lethal force.

The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David from July 11 to July 25, 2000 took place between United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. It failed with both sides blaming the other for the failure of the talks. There were four principal obstacles to agreement: territory, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, refugees and the 'right of return', and Israeli security concerns. Some sources cite this failure as one of the main reasons for the level of frustration and tension felt by many Palestinians and Israelis.

On September 28, the Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon together with a Likud party delegation surrounded by hundreds of Israeli riot police, visited the Temple Mount compound which is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. Although the compound is under Israeli sovereignty and is the holiest site in Judaism, Sharon was only permitted to enter the compound after the Israeli Interior Minister had received assurances from the Palestinian Authority's security chief that no problems would arise if he made the visit. Sharon did not actually go into the al-Aqsa Mosque, and went during normal tourist hours.

The stated purpose for Sharon's visit of the compound was to assert the right of all Israelis to visit the Temple Mount; however, according to Likud spokesman Ofir Akounis, the purpose was to "show that under a Likud government will remain under Israeli sovereignty." In response to accusations by Ariel Sharon of government readiness to concede "Israeli sovereignty" over the site to Palestinians, the Israeli government gave Sharon permission to visit the area. When alerted of his intentions, senior Palestinian figures, such as Yassir Arafat, Saeb Erekat, and Faisal Husseini all asked Sharon to call off his visit. The Palestinians, some 10 days earlier, had just observed their annual memorial day for the Sabra and Shatila massacre, conducted when Sharon was Defense Minister.

Shlomo Ben-Ami, the then acting Israeli foreign minister, has maintained, however, that he received Palestinian assurances that no violence would occur, provided that Ariel Sharon not enter one of the mosques.

On September 29, 2000, the day after Sharon's visit, following Friday prayers, large riots broke out around the Old City of Jerusalem. After Palestinians on the Temple Mount threw rocks over the Western Wall at Jewish worshipers and tourists below, wounding the district police commander, Israeli police stormed the Temple Mount and fired rubber-coated steel bullets at the rioters, killing four Palestinian youths and wounding as many as 200. Another three Palestinians were killed in the Old City and on the Mount of Olives. By the end of the day, 7 Palestinians lay dead, and some 300 had been wounded. 70 Israeli policemen were also injured in the clashes.

In the days that followed, demonstrations erupted all over the West Bank and Gaza, as violence escalated. In the first five days, at least 47 Palestinians were shot dead, and 1885 were wounded, as a result of both live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets used by the Israeli police. In the West Bank city of Qalqilyah, a Palestinian police officer working with Israeli police on a joint patrol opened fire and killed his Israeli counterpart Supt. Yosef Tabeja, an Israel Border Police officer. During the first few days of riots, the IDF fired approximately 1.3 million bullets.

According to the New York Times, many in the Arab world, including Egyptians, Palestinians, Lebanese and Jordanians, point to Sharon's visit as the beginning of the Second intifada and derailment of the peace process.

The 'October 2000 events' refers to several days of disturbances and clashes inside Israel, mostly between Arab citizens and Israel Police. 13 Arab citizens of Israel and a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip were killed by the Police, while a Jewish citizen was killed when his car was hit by a rock on the Tel-Aviv-Haifa freeway.

A general strike and demonstrations across northern Israel began on October 1 and continued for several days. In some cases, the demonstrations escalated into clashes with the Israeli Police involving rock-throwing, firebombing, and live-fire. Policemen used tear-gas and opened fire with rubber-coated bullets and later live ammunition in some instances, many times in contravention with police protocol governing riot-dispersion, which was directly linked with many of the deaths by the Or Commission.

On October 8, thousands of Jewish Israelis participated in violent acts in Nazareth and Tel Aviv, some throwing stones at Arabs, destroying Arab property and chanting "Death to Arabs".

Following the riots, there was a high degree of tension between Jewish and Arab citizens and distrust between the Arab citizens and police. An investigation committee, headed by Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or, reviewed the violent riots and found that the police were poorly prepared to handle such riots and charged major officers with bad conduct. The Or Commission reprimanded Prime Minister Ehud Barak and recommended Shlomo Ben-Ami (then the Internal Security Minister) not serve again as Minister of Public Security. The committee also blamed Arab leaders and Knesset members for contributing to inflaming the atmosphere and making the violence more severe.

On October 12, two Israeli reservists who entered Ramallah were arrested by the PA police. Believing them to be death squad operatives, an agitated Palestinian mob stormed the police station, beat the soldiers to death, and threw their mutilated bodies into the street from a second floor window. The killings were captured on video by an Italian TV crew and broadcast on TV; . The brutality of the killings shocked the Israeli public and were condemned by Palestinian leaders.

In response, Israel launched a series of retaliatory air strikes against the Palestinian Authority. This included police stations and prisons that the Authority was supposed to use to repress Israel's enemies. These attacks prompted the release of many prisoners, leading Israel to take further action against the Palestinians.

The Taba Summit between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, was held from January 21 to January 27, 2001 at Taba in the Sinai peninsula. Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat came closer to reaching a final settlement than any previous or subsequent peace talks yet ultimately failed to achieve its goals.

Ariel Sharon, at the time from the Likud party, ran against Ehud Barak from the Labour party. Sharon was elected Israeli Prime Minister February 6, 2001 in the 2001 special election to the Prime Ministership. Sharon refused to meet in person with Yasser Arafat.

Through the first few months of Sharon's term, a systematic campaign was waged against Palestinian Authority targets, in particular the police and the prisons. The joint security mechanism between Israel and the Preventative Security organisation was dissolved by Sharon's order - this mechanism that helped to restrain Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombings. With more Hamas prisoners released and this cooperation finished, and with the police subject to a relentless military campaign, the suicide bombers quickly and predictably made their way into Israel.

On May 7, 2001, the IDF naval commandos captured the vessel Santorini, which sailed in international waters towards Palestinian Authority-controlled Gaza. The ship was laden with weaponry. The Israeli investigation that followed alleged that the shipment had been purchased by Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC). The ship's value and that of its cargo was estimated at $10 million. The crew was reportedly planning to unload the cargo of weapons filled barrels — carefully sealed and waterproofed along with their contents — at a prearranged location off the Gaza coast, where the Palestinian Authority would recover them.

On May 18, 2001, Israel for the first time since 1967 used warplanes to attack targets in the territories. Prior to that, bombing had been carried out with helicopter gunships. 12 Palestinians were killed in these attacks on security forces-related targets.

On June 1, 2001, an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber detonated himself in the Tel Aviv coastline Dolphinarium dancing club. Twenty-one Israeli civilians, most of them high school students, were killed. The attack significantly hampered American attempts to negotiate cease-fire.

In January, 2002, the IDF Shayetet 13 naval commando captured the Karine A, a large boat carrying weapons from Iran towards Israel, believed to be intended for Palestinian militant use against Israel. It was discovered that top officials in the Palestinian Authority were involved in the smuggling with the Israelis pointing the finger towards Yasser Arafat as being also was involved.

A spate of suicide bombings and attacks, aimed mostly at civilians, was launched against Israel and elicited a military response. A suicide bombing dubbed the Passover Massacre (30 Israeli civilians were killed at Park hotel, Netanya) climaxed a bloody month of March 2002, in which more than 130 Israelis, mostly civilians, were killed in attacks. Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield. The operation led to the apprehension of many members of militant groups, as well as their weaponry and equipment.

The UN estimated that 497 Palestinians were killed and 1,447 wounded by the Israeli response(data from 1 March through 7 May) culminating with the recapturing of Palestinian Authority controlled areas.

Between April 2 and 11th, a siege and fierce fighting took place in Jenin, a Palestinian refugee camp. The Jenin battle became a flashpoint for both sides. During the IDF's operations in the camp, Palestinian sources alleged that a massacre of hundreds people had taken place. In the ensuing controversy, the United Nations issued a report that found no evidence of hundreds of deaths, and criticized both sides for placing Palestinian civilians at risk. However, based on their own investigations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch charged that IDF personnel in Jenin had committed war crimes. Both human rights organizations called for official inquiries; the IDF disputed the charges. After the battle, most sources, including the Palestinian Authority, placed the Palestinian death toll between 52 and 56. The IDF reported that 23 Israeli soldiers were killed.

In late April 2 to May 10, a stand-off developed between armed Fatah militants and the IDF at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Despite the code of conduct demanding respect for holy sites and Israel's controversial Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, Section 3: Protection of Holy Places, the stand-off could not be resolved, and after significant delay, IDF snipers killed 7 people inside the church and wounded more than 40 people. The stand-off was resolved by the deportation of 13 Palestinian militants whom the IDF has identified as terrorists to Europe, and the IDF ended its 38 day stand-off with the militants inside the church.

Following an Israeli intelligence report stating that Yasir Arafat paid $20,000 to al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the United States demanded democratic reforms in the Palestinian Authority, as well the appointment of a prime minister independent of Arafat. On 13 March 2003, following U.S. pressure, Arafat appointed the moderate Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian prime minister.

Following the appointment of Abbas, the U.S. administration promoted the Road map for peace — the Quartet's plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by disbanding militant organizations, halting settlement activity and establishing a democratic and peaceful Palestinian state. The first phase of the plan demanded that the Palestinian Authority suppress guerrilla and terrorist attacks and confiscate illegal weapons. Unable or unwilling to confront militant organizations and risk civil war, Abbas tried to reach a temporary cease-fire agreement with the militant factions and asked them to halt attacks on Israeli civilians.

On May 20, Israeli naval commandos intercepted another vessel, the Abu Hassan, on course to the Gaza Strip from Lebanon. It was loaded with rockets, weapons, and ammunition. Eight crew members on board were arrested including a senior Hezbollah member.

In June 2003, a so-called temporary armistice was unilaterally declared by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which declared a ceasefire and halt to all attacks against Israel for a period of 45 days. Violence decreased somewhat in the following month but suicide bombings against Israeli civilians continued as well as Israeli operations against militants.

Four Palestinians, three of them militants, were killed in gun battles during an IDF raid of Askar near Nablus involving tanks and Armoured personnel carriers (APCs); an Israeli soldier was killed by one of the militants. Nearby Palestinians claimed a squad of Israeli police disguised as Palestinian labourers opened fire on Abbedullah Qawasameh as he left a Hebron mosque. YAMAM, the Israeli counter-terrorism police unit which performed the operation stated that Qawasemah opened fire on them as they attempted to arrest him.

On August 19, Hamas coordinated a suicide attack on a crowded bus in Jerusalem killing 23 Israeli civilians, including 7 children. Hamas claimed it was a retaliation for the killing of five Palestinians (including Hamas leader Abbedullah Qawasameh) earlier in the week. U.S. and Israeli media outlets frequently referred to the bus bombing as shattering the quiet and bringing an end to the ceasefire.

Following the Hamas bus attack, Israeli Defence Forces were ordered to kill or capture all Hamas leaders in Hebron and the Gaza Strip. The plotters of the bus suicide bombing were all captured or killed and Hamas leadership in Hebron was badly damaged by the IDF. Strict curfews were enforced in Nablus, Jenin, and Tulkarem; the Nablus lockdown lasted for over 100 days. In Nazlet 'Issa, over 60 shops were destroyed by Israeli civil administration bulldozers. The Israeli civil administration explained that the shops were demolished because they were built without a permit. Palestinians consider Israeli military curfews and property destruction to constitute collective punishment against innocent Palestinians.

Unable to rule effectively under Arafat, Abbas resigned in September 2003. Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) was appointed to replace him. The Israeli government gave up hope for negotiated settlement to the conflict and pursued a unilateral policy of physically separating Israel from Palestinian communities by beginning construction on the Israeli West Bank barrier. Israel claims the barrier is necessary to prevent Palestinian attackers from entering Israeli cities. Palestinians claim the barrier separates Palestinian communities from each other and that the construction plan is a de facto annexation of Palestinian territory.

Following an October 4 suicide bombing in Maxim restaurant, Haifa, which claimed the lives of 21 Israelis, Israel claimed that Syria and Iran sponsored the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, and were responsible for the terrorist attack. The day after the Maxim massacre, IAF warplanes bombed an alleged former terrorist training base at Ain Saheb, Syria (abandoned since the early 80s).

In response to a repeated shelling of Israeli communities with Qassam rockets and mortar shells from Gaza, the IDF operated mainly in Rafah — to search and destroy smuggling tunnels used by militants to obtain weapons, ammunition, fugitives, cigarettes, car parts, electrical goods, foreign currency, gold, drugs, and cloth from Egypt. Between September 2000 and May 2004, ninety tunnels connecting Egypt and the Gaza Strip were found and destroyed. Raids in Rafah left many families homeless. Israel's official stance is that their houses were captured by militants and were destroyed during battles with IDF forces. Many of these houses are abandoned due to Israeli incursions and later destroyed. According to Human Rights Watch, over 1,500 houses were destroyed to create a large buffer zone in the city, many "in the absence of military necessity", displacing around sixteen thousand people.

On 2 February 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his plan to transfer all the Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli opposition dismissed his announcement as "media spin" but the Israeli Labour Party said it would support such a move. Sharon's right-wing coalition partners National Religious Party and National Union rejected the plan and vowed to quit the government if it were implemented. Surprisingly, Yossi Beilin, peace advocate and architect of the Oslo Accords and the Geneva Accord, also rejected the proposed withdrawal plan. He claimed that withdrawing from the Gaza Strip without a peace agreement would reward terror.

Following the declaration of the disengagement plan by Ariel Sharon and as a response to suicide attacks on Erez crossing and Ashdod seaport (10 people were killed), the IDF launched a series of armored raids on the Gaza Strip (mainly Rafah and refugee camps around Gaza), killing about 70 Hamas militants. On March 22, 2004, an Israeli helicopter gunship killed Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and on April 17, after several failed attempts by Hamas to commit suicide bombings, his successor, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi was killed by IDF helicopter gunship strike.

The fighting in Gaza Strip escalated severely in May 2004 after several failed attempts to attack Israeli checkpoints such as Erez crossing and Karni crossing. However, on May 11 and May 12, Palestinian militants destroyed two IDF M-113 APCs, killing 13 soldiers and mutilating their bodies. The IDF launched two raids to recover the bodies in which about 20-40 Palestinians were killed and great damage was caused to structures in the Zaitoun neighbourhood in Gaza and in south-west Rafah.

Subsequently, on May 18 the IDF launched Operation Rainbow with a stated aim of striking the terror infrastructure of Rafah, destroying smuggling tunnels, and stopping a shipment of SA-7 missiles and improved anti-tank weapons. The operation ended after the IDF killed 40 Palestinian militants and 12 civilians and demolished about 45-56 structures. The great destruction and killing of 10 protesters led to a worldwide outcry against the operation.

On September 29, after a Qassam rocket hit the Israeli town of Sderot and killed two Israeli children, the IDF launched Operation Days of Penitence in the north of the Gaza Strip. The operation's stated aim was to remove the threat of Qassam rockets from Sderot and kill the Hamas militants launching them. The operation ended on October 16, leaving widespread destruction and more than 100 Palestinians dead, at least 20 of whom were under the age of 16. Thirteen-year-old Iman Darweesh Al Hams was killed by the IDF; some reports claimed a commander had deliberately fired his automatic weapon at her dead body, but the soldier was cleared of all charges. According to Palestinian medics, Israeli forces killed at least 62 militants and 42 other Palestinians believed to be civilians. According to a count performed by Haaretz, 87 combatants and 42 non-combatants were killed. Palestinian refugee camps were heavily damaged by the Israeli assault. The IDF announced that at least 12 Qassam launchings had been thwarted and many terrorists hit during the operation. Three Israelis also were killed, including one civilian.

On October 21, the Israeli Air Force killed Adnan al-Ghoul, a senior Hamas bomb maker and the inventor of the Qassam rocket.

On November 11, Yasser Arafat died in Paris.

Escalation in Gaza began amid the visit of Mahmoud Abbas to Syria in order to achieve a Hudna between Palestinian factions and convince Hamas leadership to halt attacks against Israelis. Hamas vowed to continue the armed struggle sending numerous Qassam rockets into open fields near Nahal Oz, and hitting a kindergarten in Kfar Darom with an anti-tank missile.

On December 9 five weapon smugglers were killed and two were arrested in the border between Rafah and Egypt. Later that day, Jamal Abu Samhadana and two of his bodyguards were injured by a missile strike. In the first Israeli airstrike against militants in weeks, an unmanned Israeli drone plane launched one missile at Abu Samahdna's car as it traveled between Rafah and Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. It was the fourth attempt on Samhadana's life by Israel. Samhadana is one of two leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees and one of the main forces behind the smuggling tunnels. Samhadana is believed to be responsible for the blast against an American diplomatic convoy in Gaza that killed three Americans.

On December 10, in response to Hamas firing mortar rounds into the Neveh Dekalim settlement in the Gaza Strip and wounding four Israelis (including an 8 year old boy), Israeli soldiers fired at the Khan Younis refugee camp (the origin of the mortars) killing a 7-year-old girl. An IDF source confirmed troops opened fire at Khan Younis, but said they aimed at Hamas mortar crews. The IDF insisted that it does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

The largest attack since the death of Yasser Arafat claimed the lives of five Israeli soldiers on December 12, wounding ten others. Approximately 1.5 tons of explosives were detonated in a tunnel under an Israeli military-controlled border crossing on the Egyptian border with Gaza near Rafah, collapsing several structures and damaging others. The explosion destroyed part of the outpost and killed three soldiers. Two Palestinian militants then penetrated the outpost and killed two other Israeli soldiers with gunfire. It is believed that Hamas and a new Fatah faction, the "Fatah Hawks," conducted the highly organized and coordinated attack. A spokesman, "Abu Majad," claimed responsibility for the attack in the name of the Fatah Hawks claiming it was in retaliation for "the assassination" of Yasser Arafat, charging he was poisoned by Israel.

Palestinian presidential elections were held on January 9, and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was elected as the president of the PA. His platform was of a peaceful negotiation with Israel and non-violence to achieve Palestinian objectives. Although Abbas called on militants to halt attacks against Israel, he promised them protection from Israeli incursions and did not advocate disarmament by force.

Violence continued in the Gaza Strip, and Ariel Sharon froze all diplomatic and security contacts with the Palestinian National Authority. Spokesman Assaf Shariv declared that "Israel informed international leaders today that there will be no meetings with Abbas until he makes a real effort to stop the terror". The freezing of contacts came less than one week after Mahmoud Abbas was elected, and the day before his inauguration. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, confirming the news, declared "You cannot hold Mahmoud Abbas accountable when he hasn't even been inaugurated yet".

Following international pressure and Israeli threat of wide military operation in the Gaza Strip, Abbas ordered Palestinian police to deploy in the northern Gaza Strip to prevent Qassam rocket and mortar shelling over Israeli settlement. Although attacks on Israelis did not stop completely, they decreased sharply. On February 8, 2005, at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit of 2005, Sharon and Abbas declared a mutual truce between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. They shook hands at a four-way summit which also included Jordan and Egypt at Sharm al-Sheikh. However, Hamas and Islamic Jihad said the truce is not binding for their members. Israel has not withdrawn its demand to dismantle terrorist infrastructure before moving ahead in the Road map for peace.

Many warned that truce is fragile, and progress must be done slowly while observing that the truce and quiet are kept. On February 9-February 10 night, a barrage of 25-50 Qassam rockets and mortar shells hit Neve Dekalim settlement, and another barrage hit at noon. Hamas said it was in retaliation for an attack in which one Palestinian was killed near an Israeli settlement. As a response to the mortar attack, Abbas ordered the Palestinian security forces to stop such attacks in the future. He also fired senior commanders in the Palestinian security apparatus. On February 10, Israeli security forces arrested Maharan Omar Shucat Abu Hamis, a Palestinian resident of Nablus, who was about to launch a bus suicide attack in the French Hill in Jerusalem.

On February 13 2005, Abbas entered into talks with the leaders of the Islamic Jihad and the Hamas, for them to rally behind him and respect the truce. Ismail Haniyah, a senior leader of the group Hamas said that "its position regarding calm will continue unchanged and Israel will bear responsibility for any new violation or aggression".

In the middle of June, Palestinian factions intensified bombardment over the city of Sderot with improvised Qassam rockets. Palestinian attacks resulted in 2 Palestinians and 1 Chinese civilian killed by a Qassam, and 2 Israelis were killed. The wave of attacks lessened support for the disengagement plan among the Israeli public. Attacks on Israel by the Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades increased in July, and on July 12 a suicide bombing hit the coastal city of Netanya, killing 5 civilians. On July 14, Hamas started to shell Israeli settlements inside and outside the Gaza Strip with dozens of Qassam rockets, killing an Israeli woman. On July 15 Israel resumed its "targeted killing" policy, killing 7 Hamas militants and bombing about 4 Hamas facilities. The continuation of shelling rockets over Israeli settlements, and street battles between Hamas militants and Palestinian policemen, threatened to shatter the truce agreed in the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit of 2005. The Israeli Defence Force also started to build-up armored forces around the Gaza Strip in response to the shelling.

On January 25, 2006, the Palestinians held general elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. The Islamist group Hamas won with an unexpected majority of 74 seats, compared to 45 seats for Fatah and 13 for other parties and independents. Hamas is officially declared as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union and its gaining control over the Palestinian Authority (such as by forming the government) would jeopardize international funds to the PA, by laws which forbid sponsoring of terrorist group.

On February 4 Israel launched a series of attacks against Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades Qassam rocket-launcher squads, killing 9 Palestinians. The air strikes came after Qassam rockets hit southern Ashkelon and Kibbutz Carmia, seriously wounding a 7-month-old baby.

On April 17 a suicide bomber struck in Tel Aviv killing 11 civilians and injuring 60.

On June 8, Jamal Abu Samhadana, the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees was assassinated along with three other PRC members in an Israeli air strike.

On June 9, seven members of the Ghalia family were killed on a Gaza beach. The cause of the explosion remains uncertain. Nevertheless, in response, Hamas declared an end to its commitment to a ceasefire declared in 2005 and announced the resumption of attacks on Israelis. Palestinians blame an Israeli artillery shelling of nearby locations in the northern Gaza Strip for the deaths, while an Israeli military inquiry cleared itself from the charges.

On June 25 a military outpost was attacked by Palestinian militants and a gunbattle followed that left 2 Israeli soldiers and 3 Palestinian militants dead. Corporal Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, was captured and Israel warned of an imminent military response if the soldier was not returned unharmed. In the early hours of June 28 Israeli tanks, APCs and troops entered the Gaza strip just hours after the air force had taken out two main bridges and the only powerstation in the strip, effectively shutting down electricity and water.

On July 12 The Israeli Cabinet authorised "severe and harsh" retaliation on Lebanon due to the Hezbollah kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, and the killing of three others.

An intensification of the Hamas-Israel conflict, the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, occurred on 27 December 2008 (11:30 a.m. local time; 9:30 a.m. UTC) when Israel launched a military campaign codenamed Operation Cast Lead (Hebrew: מבצע עופרת יצוקה‎) targeting the members and infrastructure of Hamas in response to the numerous rocket attacks upon Israel from the Gaza Strip. The operation has been termed the Gaza Massacre (Arabic: مجزرة غزة‎) by Hamas leaders and much of the media in the Arab World. On Saturday, January 17, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire, conditional on elimination of further rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, and began withdrawing over the next several days. Hamas later announced its own ceasefire, with its own conditions of complete withdrawal and opening of border crossings. A reduced level of mortar fire originating in Gaza continues, though Israel has so far not taken this as a breach of the ceasefire. The frequency of the attacks can be observed in the thumbnailed graph. The data corresponds to the article "Timeline of the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict", using mainly Haaretz news reports from the 1st of February up to the 28th . The usual IDF respones are airstrikes on weapon smuggling tunnels.

The tactics of the two sides in the conflict are largely based upon their resources and goals.

Militant groups involved in violence include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. They have waged a high-intensity campaign of guerrilla warfare and suicide bombings against Israel. Military equipment is mostly imported light arms and homemade weapons, such as hand grenades and explosive belts, assault rifles, and the Qassam rockets. They also have increased use of remote-controlled landmines, a tactic which has become increasingly popular among the poorly armed groups. Car bombs were often used against "lightly hardened" targets such as Israeli armored jeeps and checkpoints.

Palestinians also adopted the tactic of suicide bombing. Conducted as a single or double bombing, suicide bombings are generally conducted against "soft" targets (civilians) or "lightly hardened" targets (such as checkpoints) to try to raise the cost of the war to Israelis and demoralize the Israeli society. Most suicide bombing attacks (although not all) are targeted against civilians, and conducted on crowded places in Israeli cities, such as public transport, restaurants and markets.

One recent development is the use of suicide bombs carried by children. Unlike most suicide bombings, the use of these not only earned condemnation from the United States and from human rights groups such as Amnesty International, but also from many Palestinians and much of the Middle East press. The youngest Palestinian suicide bomber was 16-year-old Issa Bdeir, a high school student from the village of Al Doha, who shocked his friends and family when he blew himself up in a park in Rishon LeZion, killing a teenage boy and an elderly man. The youngest attempted suicide bombing was by a 14 year old captured by soldiers at the Huwwara checkpoint before managing to do any harm.

In May 2004, Israel Defence minister Shaul Mofaz claimed that United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East's ambulances were used to take the bodies of dead Israeli soldiers in order to prevent the Israel Defense Forces from recovering their dead. Reuters has provided video of healthy armed men entering ambulance with UN markings for transport. UNRWA initially denied that its ambulances carry militants but later reported that the driver was forced to comply with threats from armed men. UNRWA still denies that their ambulances carried body parts of dead Israeli soldiers.

In August 2004, Israel said that an advanced explosives-detection device employed by the IDF at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus discovered a Palestinian ambulance had transported explosive material.

Some of the Palestinian reaction to Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has consisted of non-violent protest. Groups such as the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement which works out of Beit Sahour formally encourage and organize non-violent resistance. Other groups, such as the International Solidarity Movement openly advocate for both violent and non-violent resistance. Some of these activities are done in cooperation with internationals and Israelis, such as the weekly protests against the Israeli West Bank Barrier carried out in villages like Bi'lin, Biddu and Budrus. This model of resistance has spread to other villages like Beit Sira, Hebron, Saffa, and Ni'lein. Even during the Israeli reinvasion of Jenin and Nablus, "A Call for a Non-violent Resistance Strategy in Palestine" was issued by two Palestinian Christians in May 2002.

Non-violent tactics have sometimes been met with Israeli military force. For example, Amnesty International notes that "10-year-old Walid Naji Abu Qamar, 11-year old Mubarak Salim al-Hashash and 13-year-old Mahmoud Tariq Mansour were among eight unarmed demonstrators killed in the early afternoon of 19 May 2004 in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, when the Israeli army open fire on a non-violent demonstration with tank shells and a missile launched from a helicopter gunship. Dozens of other unarmed demonstrators were wounded in the attack.". According to Israeli army and government officials, the tanks shelled a nearby empty building and a helicopter fired a missile in a nearby open space in order to deter the demonstrators from proceeding towards Israeli army positions.

The IDF adopted tactics appropriate to the enclosed, urban environment in which the IDF is frequently fighting. The Israeli Defense Forces stress the safety of their troops, using such heavily armored equipment as the Merkava tank and various military aircraft including F-16s, drone aircraft and helicopter gunships that often lead to civilian casualties when used in urban areas. Sniper towers were used extensively in the Gaza Strip before the Israeli pullout and are being increasingly employed in the West Bank. Heavily armored IDF Caterpillar D9 bulldozers were routinely employed to detonate booby traps and IEDs, and clear houses along the border with Egypt used to fire at Israeli troops, in "buffer zones", and during military operations in the West Bank. Until February 2005, Israel had in place a policy to demolish the family homes of suicide bombers. Due to the considerable number of Palestinians living in single homes, the large quantity of homes destroyed, and collateral damage from house demolitions, it become an increasingly controversial tactic. Families have provided timely information to Israeli forces regarding suicide bombing activities in order to prevent the demolition of their houses, although families doing so risk being executed or otherwise punished for collaboration, either by the Palestinian Authority or extrajudicially by Palestinian militants. The IDF committee studying the issue recommended ending the practice because the policy was not effective enough to justify its costs to Israel's image internationally and the backlash it created among Palestinians.

With complete ground and air superiority, mass detentions are regularly conducted; at any given time, there are about 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, about half of them held temporarily without a final indictment, in accordance with Israeli law. Security Checkpoints divide most Palestinian cities and interconnections between cities. The Israeli position is that those checkpoints are necessary to stop militants and limit the ability to move weapons around, while Palestinians and Israeli and International observers and organizations perceive those checkpoints as excessive, humiliating, and a major cause of the severe humanitarian situation in the Occupied Territories. Transit across checkpoints can take several hours, depending on the current security situation in Israel. Palestinian metalworking shops and other business facilities suspected by Israel of being used to manufacture weapons are regularly destroyed by airstrikes. The tactic of military "curfew" - long-term lockdown of civilian areas - has been used routinely. Nablus was kept under curfew for over 100 consecutive days, with generally under two hours per day allowed for people to get food or conduct other business.

Although these tactics also have been condemned internationally, Israel insists they are vital for security reasons in order to thwart terrorist attacks. Some cite figures, such as those published in Haaretz newspaper, to prove the effectiveness of these methods (Graph 1: Thwarted attacks (yellow) vs successful attacks (red) - Graph 2: Suicide bombing within the "green line" per quarter). The Israeli secret services Shabak enable the Israeli Security Forces (IDF, Magav, police YAMAM and Mistaravim SF units) to thwart suicide bombings by providing real-time warnings and reliable intelligence reports.

Israel also pursues a policy of "targeted killings", the killing of militants and especially prominent leaders who are involved in perpetrating attacks against Israelis, to eliminate imminent threats and to deter others from following suit. This tactic has been condemned as extrajudicial assassination by some international human rights organizations and the United Nations, while others (such as the United States) see it as a legitimate measure of self-defense against terrorism. Many criticize the targeted killings for placing civilians at risk, though its supporters believe it reduces civilian casualties on both sides. Israel has been criticized for the use of helicopter gunship missiles in urban assassinations which often results in civilian casualties. Israel in turn has criticized what it describes as a practice of militant leaders hiding among civilians in densely populated areas, thus turning them into unwitting human shields. Regardless of the would be ethical problems, targeted assassinations have been extensively employed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and some other armies in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq since Israel has begun using this technique.

The international community has long taken an involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and this involvement has only increased during the al-Aqsa Intifada. Israel annually receives $1.2 billion in economic aid and $1.8 billion in military aid from the United States, excluding loan guarantees. To put this figure in a regional context, the U.S. gives Egypt about 2 billion dollars in foreign aid, each year, much of which is military aid. Much of this is as a result of the Camp David Accords and the associated peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The Palestinian Authority generally receives about $100 million in economic aid from the United States, and the Palestinian territories are among the major humanitarian aid recipients.

Additionally, private groups have become increasingly involved in the conflict, such as the International Solidarity Movement on the side of the Palestinians, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on the side of the Israelis.

Since the start of the al-Aqsa Intifada and its emphasis on suicide bombers deliberately targeting civilians riding public transportation (buses), the Oslo Accords are viewed with increasing disfavor by the Israeli public.

In May 2000, seven years after the Oslo Accords and five months before the start of the al-Aqsa Intifada, a survey by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at the Tel Aviv University found that 39% of all Israelis support the Accords and that 32% believe that the Accords will result in peace in the next few years. In contrast, the May 2004 survey found that 26% of all Israelis support the Accords and 18% believe that the Accords will result in peace in the next few years; decreases of 13% and 16% respectively. Furthermore, later survey found that 80% of all Israelis believe the Israel Defense Forces have succeeded in dealing with the al-Aqsa Intifada militarily.

A survey of Palestinian political attitudes conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre in August 1998 found that over 60% of Palestinians either cautiously (50%+) or strongly (about 10%) supported the Oslo peace process. In 2006, 51.7% thought a government headed by Hamas should continue with the Oslo Agreement, while 42% said Hamas does not have to. When asked if a Hamas led government should continue with the political negotiations that the PA is committed to, 66.3% agreed and 29.6% disagreed.

The casualty data for the Second Intifada has been reported by a variety of sources and though there is general agreement regarding the overall number of dead, the statistical picture is blurred by disparities in how different types of casualties are counted and categorized.

The number of Israeli fatalities in the current conflict with the Palestinians exceeded 1,000 last week. Only two of the country's wars - the War of Independence and the Yom Kippur War - have claimed more Israeli lives than this intifada, which began on September 29, 2000. In the Six-Day War, 803 Israelis lost their lives, while the War of Attrition claimed 738 Israeli lives along the borders with Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

There is little dispute as to the total number of Palestinians killed by Israelis. B'Tselem reports that through April 30, 2008, there were 4,745 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, and 44 Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians. B'Tselem also reports 577 Palestinians killed by Palestinians through April 30, 2008.

Between September 2000 and January 2005, 69 percent of Israeli fatalities were male, while over 95 percent of the Palestinian fatalities were male. "Remember These Children" reports that as of 1 February 2008, 119 Israeli children, age 17 and under, had been killed by Palestinians. Over the same time period, 982 Palestinian children, age 17 and under, were killed by Israelis.

Regarding the numbers of Israeli civilian versus combatant deaths, B'Tselem reports that through April 30, 2008 there were 719 Israeli civilians killed and 334 Israeli security force personnel killed. In other words, 31.7% of those killed were Israeli security force personnel, while 68.3% were civilians.

The number of noncombatant casualties among Palestinians is more difficult to determine, due to the different criteria applied by various institutes to determine who and who is not to be considered a civilian or non-combatant.

The Israeli International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (IPICT), on the other hand, in a "Statistical Report Summary" for September 27, 2000 through January 1, 2005 indicates that 56% (1542) of the 2773 Palestinians killed by Israelis were combatants. According to their data, an additional 406 Palestinians were killed by actions of their own side. 22% (215) of the 988 Israelis killed by Palestinians were combatants. An additional 22 Israelis were killed by actions of their own side.

As a response to IDF statistics about Palestinian casualties in the West Bank, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem reported that two thirds of the Palestinians killed in 2004 did not participate in the fighting.

Others argue that Palestinian National Authority has, throughout the Intifada, placed unarmed men, women, children and the elderly in the line of fire, and that announcing the time and place of anti-occupation demonstrations via television, radio, sermons, and calls from mosque loudspeaker systems is done for this purpose.

The violence continued on both sides throughout 2006. On December 27 the Israeli Human Rights Organization B'Tselem released its annual report on the Intifada. According to which, 660 Palestinians, a figure more than three times the number of Palestinians killed in 2005, and 23 Israelis, have been killed in 2006. From a December 28 Haaretz article: "According to the report, about half of the Palestinians killed, 322, did not take part in the hostilities at the time they were killed. 22 of those killed were targets of assassinations, and 141 were minors." 405 of 660 Palestinians were killed in the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict, which lasted from 28 June till 26 November.

B'Tselem reports that through April 30, 2008 there were 577 Palestinians killed by Palestinians. Of those, 120 were "Palestinians killed by Palestinians for suspected collaboration with Israel." B'Tselem maintains a list of deaths of Palestinians killed by Palestinians with details about the circumstances of the deaths. Some of the many causes of death are crossfire, factional fighting, kidnappings, collaboration, etc..

Internal Palestinian violence has been called an ‘Intra’fada during this Intifada and the previous one.

The Israeli commerce has experienced much hardship, in particular because of the sharp drop in tourism. A representative of Israel's Chamber of Commerce has estimated the cumulative economic damage caused by the crisis at 150 to 200 billion Shekels, or 35 to 45 billion US $ - against an annual GDP of 122 billion dollars in 2002. Since the end of 2003 however, Israel has experienced a strong economic recovery.

Sixteen square kilometers of land in the Gaza Strip, most of it agricultural, was razed by Israeli military forces and more than 601 houses were completely destroyed. The Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO) estimates the damage done to the Palestinian economy at over 1.1 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2002, compared to an annual GDP of 4.5 billion dollars.

Sergio Catignani, Israeli Counter-Insurgency and the two Intifadas: Dilemmas of a Conventional Army (London: Routledge, 2008), ISBN 978-0-415-43388-4.

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Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres (help·info) (Hebrew: שמעון פרס‎, born Szymon Perski on 2 August 1923) is the ninth and current President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years. Peres was elected to the Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, served continuously until 2007, when he became President. In November 2008 he was presented with an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

Born in Wiszniewo, in Poland (now Belarus) in 1923, Peres moved with his family to Mandate Palestine in 1934. He held several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after Israel's War of Independence. His first high level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952, and Director-General in 1953 through 1959. During his career, he has represented five political parties in the Knesset: Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima, and has led Alignment and Labour. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the peace talks which he participated in as Israeli Foreign Minister, producing the Oslo Accords. Peres was nominated in early 2007 by Kadima to run in that year's presidential election, being elected by the Knesset for the presidency on 13 June 2007 and sworn into office on 15 July 2007 for a seven-year term.

Shimon Peres was born on 2 August 1923 in Wiszniewo, Poland (now Višnieva, Belarus), to Yitzhak (1896-1962) and Sara (b. 1905 née Meltzer) Perski. The family spoke Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian at home, and Peres learned Polish at school. He now speaks English and French in addition to Hebrew. His father was a lumber merchant, later branching out into other commodities whilst his mother was a librarian. Peres has a younger brother, Gershon.

In 1932, Peres' father immigrated to Palestine and settled in Tel Aviv. The family followed him in 1934. He attended Balfour Elementary School and High School, and Geula Gymnasium (High School for Commerce) in Tel Aviv. At 15, he transferred to Ben Shemen agricultural school and lived on Kibbutz Geva for several years. Peres was one of the founders of Kibbutz Alumot. In 1941 he was elected Secretary of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, a Labor Zionist youth movement, and in 1944 returned to Alumot, where he worked as a dairy farmer, shepherd and kibbutz secretary.

In 1945, Shimon Peres married Sonya (née Gelman), who has preferred to remain outside the public eye throughout his political career. They have three children: a daughter, Zvia Valdan, a linguist and professor at Beit Berl Teachers Training College; and two sons, Yoni (born 1952), director of Village Veterinary Center, a veterinary hospital on the campus of Kfar Hayarok Agricultural School near Tel Aviv, and Hemi, chairman of Pitango Venture Capital, one of Israel’s largest venture capital funds. Peres has 8 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Sonya Peres was unable to attend Shimon's inauguration ceremony due to ill health. Peres is a first cousin of actress Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perski).

In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces. David Ben-Gurion made him responsible for personnel and arms purchases. In 1952, he was appointed Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense, and in 1953, at the age of 29, became the youngest ever Director General of the Ministry of Defense. He was involved in arms purchases and establishing strategic alliances that were important for the State of Israel. Owing to Peres' mediation, Israel acquired the advanced Dassault Mirage III French jet fighter, established the Dimona nuclear reactor and entered into a tri-national agreement with France and the United Kingdom during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Peres was first elected to the Knesset in the 1959 elections, as a member of the Mapai party. He was given the role of Deputy Defense Minister, which he fulfilled until 1965 when he was implicated in the Lavon affair with Moshe Dayan. Peres and Dayan left Mapai with David Ben-Gurion to form a new party, Rafi which reconciled with Mapai and joined the Alignment (a left-wing alliance) in 1968.

In 1969, Peres was appointed Minister of Immigrant Absorption and in 1970 became Minister of Transportation and Communications. In 1974, after a period as Information Minister, he was appointed Minister of Defense in the Yitzhak Rabin government, having been Rabin's chief rival for the post of Prime Minister after Golda Meir resigned in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. During this time, Peres continued to challenge Rabin for the chairmanship of the party, but in 1977, he again lost to Rabin in the party elections.

Peres succeeded Rabin as party leader prior to the 1977 elections when Rabin stepped down in the wake of a foreign currency scandal involving his wife. As Rabin could not legally resign from the transition government, he officially remained Prime Minister, while Peres became the unofficial acting Prime Minister. Peres led the Alignment to its first ever electoral defeat, when Likud under Menachem Begin won sufficient seats to form a coalition that excluded the left. After only a month on top, Peres assumed the role of opposition leader.

After turning back a comeback bid by Rabin in 1980 Peres led his party to another, narrower, loss in the 1981 elections.

In 1984, the Alignment won more seats than any other party but failed to muster the majority of 61 mandates needed to form a left-wing coalition. Therefore, the Alignment and Likud agreed on an unusual "rotation" arrangement in which Peres would serve as Prime Minister and the Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir would be Foreign Minister .

A highlight of this time in office was a trip to Morocco to confer with King Hassan II.

After two years, Peres and Shamir traded places. In 1986 he became foreign minister. In 1988, the Alignment led by Peres suffered another narrow defeat. He agreed to renew the coalition with the Likud, this time conceding the premiership to Shamir for the entire term. In the national unity government of 1988-1990, Peres served as Vice Premier and Minister of Finance. He and the Alignment finally left the government in 1990, after "the dirty trick" - A failed bid to form a narrow government based on a coalition of the Alignment, small leftist factions and ultra-orthodox parties.

From 1990, Peres led the opposition in the Knesset, until, in early 1992, he was defeated in the first primary elections of the new Israeli Labor Party (which had been formed by the consolidation of the Alignment into a single unitary party) by Yitzhak Rabin, whom he had replaced fifteen years earlier.

Peres remained active in politics, however, serving as Rabin's foreign minister from 1992 and without Rabin's knowledge, began illegal secret negotiations with Yasser Arafat's PLO organization. When Rabin found out, he let them continue. The negotiations led to the Oslo Accords, which would win Peres, Rabin and Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize.

After Rabin's assassination in 1995, Peres again became Prime Minister. During his term, Peres promoted the use of the Internet in Israel and created the first website of an Israeli prime minister. However, he was narrowly defeated by Benjamin Netanyahu in the first direct elections for Prime Minister in 1996.

In 1997 he did not seek re-election as Labor Party leader and was replaced by Ehud Barak. Barak rebuffed Peres's attempt to secure the position of party president and upon forming a government in 1999 appointed Peres to the minor post of Minister for Regional Development. Peres played little role in the Barak government.

In 2000 Peres ran for a seven-year term as Israel's President, a ceremonial head of state position, which usually authorizes the selection of Prime Minister. Had he won, as was expected, he would have been the first ex-Prime Minister to be elected President. He lost however, to Likud candidate Moshe Katsav.

Following Ehud Barak's defeat by Ariel Sharon in the 2001 direct election for Prime Minister, Peres made yet another comeback. He led Labor into a national unity government with Sharon's Likud and secured the post of Foreign Minister. The formal leadership of the party passed to Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and in 2002 to Haifa mayor, Amram Mitzna. Peres was much criticized on the left for clinging to his position as Foreign Minister in a government that was not seen as advancing the peace process, despite his own dovish stance. He left office only when Labor resigned in advance of the 2003 elections. After the party under the leadership of Mitzna suffered a crushing defeat, Peres again emerged as interim leader. He led the party into coalition with Sharon once more at the end of 2004 when the latter's support of "disengagement" from Gaza presented a diplomatic program Labor could support.

Peres won the chairmanship of the Labor Party in 2005, in advance of the 2006 elections. As party leader, Peres favored pushing off the elections for as long as possible. He claimed that an early election would jeopardize both the September 2005 Gaza withdrawal plan and the standing of the party in a national unity government with Sharon. However, the majority pushed for an earlier date, as younger members of the party, among them Ophir Pines-Paz and Isaac Herzog, overtook established leaders like Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Haim Ramon, in the party ballot to divide up government portfolios. It turned out that elections could not be held in June, as planned, when a scandal erupted over possible fraud in registering party members. The investigation of this scandal delayed elections until 9 November 2005.

Irrespective of before or after the delay, Peres continually led in the polls, defying predictions that rivals would overtake him. His bitter exchanges with opponents began when former Prime Minister Barak began backing the holding of primaries early that year, as Amir Peretz and Haim Ramon, two staunch anti-Barak Knesset members vowed to support Peres at any cost to defeat Barak. In a bizarre change of events, Peretz soon declared his own candidacy, a move viewed by Peres as the greatest betrayal.

Though Peres continued to trade nasty barbs with Barak in the newspapers, his feud with Peretz soon superseded that, especially when Barak pulled out of the race in early October. One of Peretz's main charges against Peres was that he neglected socio-economic affairs as a member of the Sharon government, and did not fulfill his statement that Labor had joined the coalition with only the intent of seeing through the Gaza Withdrawal. Peres lost the leadership election with 40% to Peretz's 42.4%.

On 30 November 2005 Peres announced that he was leaving the Labor Party to support Ariel Sharon and his new Kadima party. In the immediate aftermath of Sharon's debilitating stroke there was speculation that Peres might take over as leader of the party but most senior Kadima leaders, however, were former members of Likud and indicated their support for Ehud Olmert as Sharon's successor.

Labor reportedly tried to woo Peres back to the fold. Peres announced, however, that he supported Olmert and would remain with Kadima. Media reports suggested that Ehud Olmert offered Peres the second slot on the Kadima list, but inferior cabinet positions to the ones that were reportedly offered to Tzipi Livni. Peres had previously announced his intention not to run in the March elections. Following Kadima's win in the election, Peres was given the role of Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev, Galilee and Regional Economy.

On 13 June 2007, Peres was elected President of the State of Israel by the Knesset. 58 of 120 members of the Knesset voted for him in the first round (whereas 38 voted for Reuven Rivlin, and 21 for Colette Avital). His opponents then backed Peres in the second round and 86 members of the Knesset voted in his favor, while 23 objected. He resigned from his role as a Member of the Knesset the same day, having been a member since November 1959 (except for a three month period in early 2006), the longest serving in Israeli political history. Peres was sworn in as President on 15 July, 2007.

On November 13, 2007, Peres became the first Israeli president to speak before the legislature of a Muslim country when he addressed the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

In early 2008, plans were announced by Peres for joint economic effort in four locations in the West Bank, in a plan known as the Valley of Peace initiative. This effort was to include joint economic and industrial projects, and a jointly-built university, with investment from several countries, including Turkey and Japan.

Prime Minister Olmert presented his resignation to Peres at the president's residence in Jerusalem on September 21, 2008.On September 23, 2008, Peres asked Tzipi Livni to form a new government.

In January 2009 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He was involved in a heated debate featuring the Arab league secretary general, Amr Moussa, the U.N Secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, And Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. During this debate, Erdoğan accused Israel of "Killing people" (a reference to the 2008 Hamas-Israel conflict) Shimon Peres replied aggressively, reminding whoever was present of the lack of news coverage of the 1 million people in range of the Qassam rockets that had to be evacuated during the night, and posed a question to the audience "What would your country do?" he also asked Mr Erdoğan if he knew "any other country with a 60 year history that has been involved in 7 wars, and two intifadas?" The debate caused a heated controversy when Recep Erdoğan stormed off stage claiming that "I wont come back to Davos, you seem reluctant to let me speak" Erdoğan was received in Turkey as a hero of the Muslim world, Peres claimed that he then had a conversation over the phone with Mr Erdoğan and that issues were settled in a friendly manner.

On February 18, 2009, Peres began consultations with delegations from Kadima and Likud to discuss the creation of a coalition after the Israeli legislative election, 2009. On February 20, Peres chose Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new Israeli government. In choosing Netanyahu, with Kadima having won 28 seats to 27 for Likud, Peres broke with the presidential tradition of asking the leader of the party with the most legislators to form a government.

On February 24, 2009, after presiding over the swearing-in ceremony of Knesset members in Jerusalem, Peres opened Israel's Eighteenth Knesset.

On March 20, 2009, Peres met with Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu, following his appeal for an extension of the period of time given to form a coalition government. Peres granted the request, granting Netanyahu a 14-day extension to form a government by April 3, 2009.

Peres was at one time considered something of a hawk. He was a protégé of Ben-Gurion and Dayan and an early supporter of the West Bank settlers during the 1970s. However, after becoming the leader of his party his stance evolved. More recently he has been seen as a dove, and a strong supporter of the notion of peace through economic cooperation. While still opposed, like all mainstream Israeli leaders in the 1970s and early 1980s, to talks with the PLO, he distanced himself from settlers and spoke of the need for "territorial compromise" over the West Bank and Gaza. For a time he hoped that King Hussein of Jordan could be Israel's Arab negotiating partner rather than Yasser Arafat. Peres met secretly with Hussein in London in 1987 and reached a framework agreement with him, but this was rejected by Israel's then Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir. Shortly afterward the first intifada erupted, and whatever plausibility King Hussein had as a potential Israeli partner in resolving the fate of the West Bank evaporated. Subsequently, Peres gradually moved closer to support for talks with the PLO, although he avoided making an outright commitment to this policy until 1993.

Peres was perhaps more closely associated with the Oslo Accords than any other Israeli politician (Rabin included) with the possible exception of his own protégé, Yossi Beilin. He has remained an adamant supporter of the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority since their inception despite the First Intifada and the Al-Aqsa Intifada. However, Peres supported Ariel Sharon's military policy of operating the Israeli Defence Forces to thwart suicide bombings.

Often, Peres acts as the informal "spokesman" of Israel (even when he is in the opposition) since he earned high prestige and respect among the international public opinion and diplomatic circles. Peres advocates Israel's security policy (military counter terror operations and the Israeli West Bank barrier) against international criticism and de-legitimation efforts from pro-Palestinian circles.

On the issue of the nuclear program of Iran and the existential threat this poses for Israel, Peres stated, "I am not in favor of a military attack on Iran, but we must quickly and decisively establish a strong, aggressive coalition of nations that will impose painful economic sanctions on Iran." He added, "Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear weapons should keep the entire world from sleeping soundly." In the same speech, Peres compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his call to "wipe Israel off the map" to the genocidal threats to European Jewry made by Adolf Hitler in the years prior to the Holocaust. In an interview with Army Radio on 8 May 2006 he remarked that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map".

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Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu with Yasser Arafat and Nabil Shaath at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 1997

Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu (Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין "ביבי" נְתַנְיָהוּ (help·info), also Binyamin Netanyahu born 21 October 1949) is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He was previously the country's Prime Minister from June 1996 to July 1999. Netanyahu is also Chairman of the Likud Party. Netanyahu is the first (and, to date, only) Israeli prime minister born after the State of Israel's foundation. Netanyahu was Foreign Minister (2002-2003) and Finance Minister (2003- August 2005) in Ariel Sharon's governments and left over disagreements regarding the Gaza Disengagement Plan. He retook the Likud leadership on 20 December 2005. In the election of 2006 Likud did poorly winning twelve seats and in December 2006, Netanyahu became the official leader of the Opposition in the Knesset and Chairman of the Likud Party. In August 2007, he retained the Likud leadership by beating Moshe Feiglin in party elections. Following Israel's parliamentary elections of 10 February, 2009, where the Likud came in second and right wing parties won a majority, Netanyahu formed a coalition government.

Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv, to Cela (Tsilah) (née Segal) and Benzion Netanyahu (original name Mileikowsky). His mother was born in 1912 in Petah Tikva, part of the future British Mandate of Palestine that would eventually become Israel. Though all his grandparents were born in Russia, his mother's parents emigrated to Minneapolis in the United States. Netanyahu's father is a former professor of Jewish history at Cornell University (although the elder Netanyahu has remained active into his 90s in research and writing), a former editor of the Hebrew Encyclopedia, and a former senior aide to Zeev Jabotinsky. When he was 14 years old, Netanyahu's family moved to the United States and settled in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, where he graduated from Cheltenham High School.

Netanyahu's older brother, Yonatan, was killed in Uganda during Operation Entebbe in 1976. His younger brother, Iddo, is a radiologist and writer. All three brothers served in the Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit of the Israeli Defense Force - Benjamin from 1967 to 1972 as a captain. He earned a B.S. degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975, an M.S. degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1977, and studied political science at Harvard and MIT. After graduate school, Netanyahu worked at the Boston Consulting Group in Boston, Massachusetts and eventually returned to Israel.

Following a brief career as a furniture company's chief marketing officer, Netanyahu was appointed by Moshe Arens as his Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1982. Subsequently, he became Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, serving from 1984 to 1988. He was elected to the Knesset in 1988 and served in the governments led by Yitzhak Shamir from 1988 to 1992. Shamir retired from politics shortly after Likud's defeat in the 1992 elections. In 1993, for the first time, the party held a primary election to select its leader, and Netanyahu was victorious, defeating Benny Begin, son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and veteran politician David Levy (Ariel Sharon initially sought Likud party leadership as well, but quickly withdrew when it was evident that he was attracting minimal support).

Netanyahu has authored several books including two on fighting terrorism. He has a daughter, Noa, from his first marriage to Micki Weizman. His second marriage was to Fleur Cates, who converted to Judaism though her father was a Jew. He is now married to his third wife, Sarah, with whom he has two sons: Yair and Avner.

In 1996 Israelis elected their Prime Minister directly for the first time. Netanyahu hired American Republican political operative Arthur Finkelstein to run his campaign, and although the American style of sound bites and sharp attacks elicited harsh criticism from inside Israel, it proved effective. (The method was later copied by Ehud Barak during the 1999 election campaign in which he beat Netanyahu.) Netanyahu won the election, surprising many by beating the pre-election favorite Shimon Peres. The main catalyst in the downfall of the latter was a wave of suicide bombings shortly before the elections; on 3 and 4 March 1996, Palestinians carried out two suicide bombings, killing 32 Israelis, with Peres seemingly unable to stop the attacks. Unlike Peres, Netanyahu did not trust Yasser Arafat and conditioned any progress at the peace process on the Palestinian Authority fulfilling its obligations - mainly fighting terrorism, and ran with the campaign slogan "Netanyahu - making a safe peace". However, although Netanyahu won the election for Prime Minister, Labor won the Knesset elections, beating the Likud-Gesher-Tzomet alliance, meaning Netanyahu had to rely on a coalition with the Ultra-orthodox parties, Shas and UTJ (whose social welfare policies flew in the face of his capitalistic outlook) in order to govern.

As Prime Minister, Netanyahu negotiated with Yasser Arafat in the form of the 1998 Wye River Accords. No progress was made regarding negotiations with the Palestinians, and although they failed to implement agreed-upon steps of the Oslo Accords, Netanyahu turned over most of Hebron to Palestinian jurisdiction. In 1996, Netanyahu and Jerusalem's mayor Ehud Olmert decided to open an exit for the Western Wall Tunnel. This sparked three days of rioting by Palestinians, resulting in both Israelis and Palestinians being killed.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized a policy of "three no(s)": no withdrawal from the Golan Heights, no discussion of the case of Jerusalem, no negotiations under any preconditions.

Netanyahu was opposed by the political left wing in Israel and also lost support from the right because of his concessions to the Palestinians in Hebron and elsewhere, and due to his negotiations with Arafat generally. After a long chain of scandals (including gossip regarding his marriage) and an investigation opened against him on charges of corruption (later acquitted), Netanyahu lost favor with the Israeli public.

After being defeated by Ehud Barak in the 1999 election for Prime Minister, Netanyahu temporarily retired from politics.

In 2001, Netanyahu missed the opportunity to return to power since he refused to run unless there were general elections, a move that facilitated Sharon's entry into the race for Prime Minister.

In 2002, after the Labor Party left the coalition and vacated the position of foreign minister, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed Netanyahu as Foreign Minister. Netanyahu challenged Sharon for the leadership of the Likud party, but failed to oust Sharon.

After the 2003 elections, Netanyahu accepted the post of Finance Minister in a newly formed Sharon coalition. Netanyahu did not support the concept of a future Palestinian state, though on two occasions in 2001, he indicated willingness to consider the idea.

As Finance Minister, Netanyahu undertook an economic plan in order to restore Israel's economy from its low point during the al-Aqsa Intifada. The plan involved a move toward more liberalized markets, although it was not without its critics. Netanyahu succeeded in passing several long-in-the-queue reforms, including an important reform in the banking system. However, opponents in the Labor party (and a few even with his own Likud) viewed Netanyahu's policies as "Thatcherite" attacks on the venerated Israeli social safety net. Likud's defeat in the 2006 elections is seen by many observers as a collective Israeli rejection of these policies.

Netanyahu threatened to resign in 2004 unless the Gaza pullout plan was put to a referendum, but later lifted the ultimatum and voted for the program in the Knesset. He submitted his resignation letter on 7 August 2005, shortly before the Israeli cabinet voted 17 to 5 to approve the initial phase of withdrawal from Gaza. Netanyahu's resignation went into effect 9 August 2005, two days after he submitted his letter. Shortly thereafter he said he had rejected an invitation to serve as Italy's finance minister, allegedly extended to him by Italian billionaire businessman Carlo De Benedetti, who later said it was a joke.

Following the withdrawal of Ariel Sharon from the Likud, Netanyahu was one of several candidates who vied for the Likud leadership. His most recent attempt prior to this was in September 2005 when he tried to hold early primaries for the position of the head of the Likud party, while the party held the office of Prime Minister - thus effectively pushing Ariel Sharon out of office. The party rejected this initiative. Netanyahu retook the leadership on 20 December 2005, with 47% of the primary vote. In the March 2006 Knesset elections, Likud took the third place behind Kadima and Labor and Netanyahu served as Leader of the Opposition.

Following Livni's election to head Kadima and Olmert's resignation from the prime minister post, Netanyahu declined to join the coalition Livni was trying to form and preferred new elections, which were held in February 2009.

Netanyahu was the Likud's candidate for Prime Minister in the Israeli elections that took place on 10 February 2009, as Tzipi Livni, the previous Designated Acting Prime Minister under the Olmert government, had been unable to form a viable governing coalition. During the race, Netanyahu's campaign website was noted for its strong resemblance to that used the previous year by United States President Barack Obama to reach his supporters during his campaign, including colors, fonts, icons, the use of embedded video, and social networking options such as Twitter. Opinion polls showed Likud in the lead, but with as many as a third of Israeli voters undecided. In the election itself, Likud won the second highest number of seats, Livni's party having outnumbered the Likud by one seat. A possible explanation for Likud's relatively poor showing is that some Likud supporters defected to Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party. Netanyahu, however, claimed victory on the basis that right wing parties won the majority of the vote, and on 20 February 2009, Netanyahu was designated by Israeli President Shimon Peres to succeed Ehud Olmert as Prime Minister, and began his negotiations to form a coalition government.

Despite right wing parties winning a majority of 65 seats in the Knesset, Netanyahu preferred a broader centrist coalition and turned to his Kadima rivals, chaired by Tzipi Livni, to join his government. This time it was Livni's turn to decline to join, with a difference of opinion on how to pursue the peace process being the stumbling block. Netanyahu did manage to entice a smaller rival, the Labour party, chaired by Ehud Barak, to join his government, giving him a certain amount of centrist tone.

Netayahu presented his cabinet for a Knesset "Vote of Confidence" on 31 March 2009. The 32nd Government was approved that day by a majority of 69 lawmakers and the members were sworn in.

Netanyahu has called U.S. backed peace talks a waste of time while at the same time refusing to commit to the same two state solution that other Israeli leaders have. He has repeatedly made public statements which advocated an "economic peace" approach, meaning an approach based on economic cooperation and joint effort rather than continuous contention over political and diplomatic issues. This is in line with many significant ideas from the Peace Valley plan. He raised these ideas during discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Netanyahu continued to advocate these ideas as the Israeli elections got nearer.

Strongly against Iran's pursuit of uranium enrichment, Netanyahu said "It’s 1938, and Iran is Germany, and Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs”. In an 8 March 2007 interview with CNN, he asserted that there is only one difference between Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran, namely that the first entered a worldwide conflict and then sought atomic weapons, while the latter is first seeking atomic weapons and, once it has them, will then start a world war.

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Source : Wikipedia