MIDDLE EAST HOURGLASS:

November 24, 1997: Senior IDF general says Israel should withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon. Military Intelligence head says: under no circumstances.

24/11: US demands "real withdrawal" from PM Binyamin Netanyahu during second phase of redeployment.

24/11: After visit to US, Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon warns time is not far off when Palestinians will declare a state and the world will recognise it.

25/11: Netanyahu states he will no longer seek meeting with US President Bill Clinton; believes Clinton is unwilling to meet with him now.

26/11: Likud MK Meir Shitreet announces he supports establishment of a Palestinian state.

26/11: Labour leader Ehud Barak warns guerrilla war could break out in Judea-Samaria, Gaza.

26/11: Hizb'Allah advises Hamas to wage guerrilla warfare against IDF and settlers.

26/11: Israel demands Nazi gold in the west be returned to Holocaust survivors.

27/11: Netanyahu says he will oppose PLO state.

27/11: Moshe Leon replaces Avigdor Lieberman as director-general of prime minister's office.

29/11: Thousands in Israel commemorate 50th anniversary of UN Partition Plan.

29/11: Three SLA soldiers are killed, five IDF soldiers are wounded in attacks in south Lebanon.

29/11: Hundreds of right-wing Israelis protest planned further redeployment.

29/11: Arabs riot in Bethlehem against Israel.

30/11: Israeli cabinet agrees in principle to second troop redeployment--dependent on PA keeping its hitherto unfulfilled commitments under Oslo. Labour Party condemns vote as "irrelevant".

December 1, 1997: Netanyahu tells Arafat: If PA declares state I will annex territories.

1/12: CNN reports plans by US President Bill Clinton to announce American policy change which will include support for a Palestinian state.

1/12: Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Meir Lau supports Muslim demands that they be given possession of abandoned mosques in Israel.

1/12: Settlement of Alfei Menashe announces it has received permission to build 900 new homes.

2/12: Palestinian officials announce they arrested Hamas activist and confiscated 100 kilograms of explosives found in his possession; claim their actions foiled terror attack in Israel. The report is later found to have been false.

2/12: Peace Now group calls for the evacuation of 24 settlements, and for 50 per cent of the territories to be given to the PA.

2/12: Arafat tells press conference: Our state already exists, and Jerusalem will be its capital.

3/12: Massive country-wide strike brings Israel to a standstill.

5/12: London Daily Telegraph reports retired Mossad agent Yehuda Gil has been passing bogus information to Israel concerning Syria for years.

6/12: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tells Netanyahu she expects to hear from him within two weeks that Israel will make a significant further redeployment.

6/12: Arafat spokesman Marwan Kanafani describes meetings between Arafat and Albright as "useless".

7/12: Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai and Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon agree to combine map ideas for permanent Israeli-PLO agreement.

7/12: Five-day nationwide strike ends.

7/12: French foreign minister says next move to revive Oslo process is up to Israel.

7/12: Former PM Shimon Peres tells Labour Party convention he supports a Palestinian state.

8/12: Labour party members call leader Ehud Barak a "dictator".

8/12: Mordechai makes historic trip to Turkey.

8/12: Knesset calls on US to release Jonathan Pollard, the American Jew who received unprecedented life jail term for spying for Israel

9/12: Tehran Islamic conference opens with verbal attacks on Israel and the US.

9/12: PM Netanyahu orders police to prevent PA census being taken in Jerusalem. Special Knesset session rushes through bill amendment making the census in Jerusalem illegal

9/12: Times of London reports Israel is planning to attack Iranian missile bases.

10/12: FM David Levy and Arafat deputy Abu Mazen meet to discuss redeployment.

10/12: Report: US administration is pressuring Netanyahu into agreeing to further redeployment in excess of 10 per cent of the territories.

10/12: Israeli police arrest Palestinian youths carrying census forms in Jerusalem.

10/12: Turkish president Suleyman Demirel leaves Tehran conference before Muslim states condemn Turkey for cooperating with Israel; Netanyahu invited to Turkey.

10/12: Arafat tells Islamic conference Israel is plotting to destroy the Al-Aksa mosque and rebuild Temple in its place.

10/12: Netanyahu says he will not take maps outlining redeployment options to his next meeting with Albright.

10/12: Announcement: Netanyahu and Arafat will meet on December 18, after holding separate meetings with Albright.

11/12: Survey results reported: 70 per cent of Israelis oppose any further redeployment until PA destroys Hamas and extradites murderers.

11/12: Foreign Report claims Israeli pilots are training in Turkey to destroy Iranian nuke reactor.

12/12: US special envoy Martin Indyk tells Arafat US expects definite commitment from Israel on size of next redeployment.

12/12: Netanyahu says Israel will not commit suicide in order to please US; will not present figures to Albright.

12/12: Yediot Ahronot publishes nine-page "exposé" slandering PM Netanyahu's wife, Sara.

14/12: US Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan arrives unannounced at Israel-Jordan border; meets Arafat. Israel will not bar entry but refuses official meeting unless Farrakhan retracts anti-Semitic remarks.

14/12: Iranian president Mohammed Khatami calls for dialogue with US.

14/12: Hundreds of Israelis demonstrate against US pressure on Israel.

15/12: Farrakhan returns to Jordan without visiting Israel.

15/12: US Congressmen send letter to Netanyahu, urging him to withstand Clinton's pressures to give up more land.

16/12: Stormy cabinet meeting to debate further Israeli redeployment, Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon accuses PM Netanyahu of jeopardising Israel's national security.

16/12: Israel releases report documenting PA anti-Semitic incitement and libel against Israel.

18/12: After meeting Netanyahu, Albright announces Clinton will meet Israeli PM and Arafat, separately, in January.

19/12: US threatens to attack Iraq if Saddam blocks UN from inspecting his palaces.20/12: US, Arafat protest Netanyahu statement that "West Bank" is part of Eretz Israel.

20/12: Israel tells Red Cross it will exchange Lebanese prisoners for body of Israeli commando.

20/12: US gives Israel two weeks to decide extent of further withdrawal; Netanyahu reiterates: There will be no progress in negotiations without the Palestinians cancelling their charter and fighting terrorism.

20/12: Likud MK says he supports dismantling certain settlements.


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