MIDDLE EAST HOURGLASS:

October 7, 1997: US names career diplomat Daniel Charles Kurtzer as ambassador to Egypt, replacing Edward Walker, who has become US ambassador to Israel.

7/10: Recently-freed Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin offers temporary "ceasefire" in return for full Israeli withdrawal (including all Jewish communities) from Judea-Samaria.

7/10: Late-night summit between PM Binyamin Netanyahu and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat seen as positive step in renewal of negotiations.

7/10: Israeli opposition parties demand full state inquiry into botched Mossad attempt to kill Hamas official Khalid Mashaal in Jordan.

8/10: Egyptian Defence Minister Mohammed Tantawi says Egyptian military must be ready to move quickly from peace to war with Israel.

8/10: Two IDF soldiers killed and six wounded in clashes in south Lebanon, during which Hizb'Allah men fire mortars from shelter of school building.

8/10: Jordan's King Hussein says he offered to mediate "ceasefire" proposed by Hamas with Israel two days before the Mashaal incident.

8/10: Arafat tells emergency session of Palestinian Legislative Council that US-Israel-Jordan-Hamas plot exists to undermine the PA.

9/10: IDF chief says Hizb'Allah and other terrorists would reach Israel easier without Israeli military presence in Lebanon.

9/10: Israeli officials present US administration with "proof" that Iran has tested long-range missile systems and is a year away from using them.

10/10: Syrian Defence Minister Mustafa Tlas warns Netanyahu's policies could trigger explosion.

12/10: Council of Jewish settlers releases report saying Palestinians have built more than 19,000 illegal homes in Jerusalem area since the Oslo Accords were signed.

13/10: Hamas leader denies that the group offered to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel.

18/10: Hizb'Allah fires on IDF tank in Lebanon, killing Israeli soldier.

18/10: Flash floods in Israel kill at least 13.

19/10: Report: Israel and the PA negotiating a secret deal whereby Israel will halt construction in Judea-Samaria and Gaza.

19/10: US State Department mediator Dennis Ross begins new regional mission.

19/10: IDF planes bomb Hizb'Allah bases in Lebanon.

19/10: Report: Palestinian police chief Ghazi Jabali, wanted by Israel for ordering terror attacks against Jews, has been transferred to Moscow.

20/10: Report: Israel will deliver 100+ Popeye air-to-air missiles to Turkey in next two years.

20/10: Shimon Peres opens new Tel Aviv "Peace Centre" in presence of international dignitaries.

20/10: French ambassador to Israel says any Lebanon deal will have to include Syria.

20/10: Israel and PA begin to draw up agreement that will permit PA use of Israeli airspace.

21/10: Netanyahu thanks Christians for their support at Feast of Tabernacles gathering.

21/10: Israel's ambassador to US, Eliahu Ben-Elissar, warns PM that conversion bill threatens US Jewish support for Israel.

21/10: Mordechai and Arafat meeting yields agreement on renewed security cooperation.

22/10: Hamas' Mashaal threatens more attacks "in the coming days".

22/10: US Congress ends freeze on military funding for Israel.

23/10: Hong Kong crash triggers market slides worldwide, including Tel-Aviv.

24/10: Office of PM issues report on PA's persecution of Christians in self-rule areas.

24/10: Netanyahu backs Mossad boss Danny Yatom before committee investigating Mashaal affair.

25/10: Arafat urges EU to pressure Netanyahu by using Europe's unique trade agreement with Israel.

25/10: Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov visits Beirut and Damascus; calls for Russian participation in multinational committee monitoring Lebanon conflict.

25/10: Two IDF soldiers hurt in clash with Islamic Jihad in Lebanon.

26/10: Primakov begins visit to Jerusalem and Ram'Allah, seeking greater role in Oslo process; denies Russia is assisting Iran's missile programme in face of what Israel calls "hard evidence."

26/10: Reform/Conservative Jews hold marathon session on conversion compromise package.

27/10: Primakov, back in Damascus; says Russia will be first to recognise Palestinian state.

27/10: Finance Minister Yaakov Ne'eman calls Reform/Conservative decision to sue over conversion crisis "most serious mistake since the destruction of the Temple".

27/10: Knesset reopens with stormy debates over conversion bill and related religious issues.

28/10: Government delays FM Levy's Washington trip to decide parameters for Israel-PA-US talks.

29/10: US President Bill Clinton and Jiang Zemin of China reach nuclear deal aimed at halting spread of weapons to Iran and Pakistan.

29/10: Knesset members call for probe of GSS agent Avishai Raviv's role in right-wing protest activity before Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.

30/10: Tensions between US and Iraq rise after Saddam Hussein bars American arms inspectors.

30/10: Vatican opens historic conference discussing Catholic role in anti-Semitism, Holocaust; no Jews are invited.

31/10: Syrian official acknowledges its support of Muslim militias in Lebanon.

31/10: Pope condemns lack of Christian action against Nazi Holocaust, but issues no apology.

1/11: Iraq defiant in banning Americans from UN weapons inspection teams.

1/11: Arafat, PA negotiating team voice uncertainty over Washington talks agenda.

2/11: PA miffs US, Israeli peace teams by delaying arrival of key delegates to talks.

2/11: Reports say two Mossad agents in Mashaal affair were tortured while held in Amman.

2/11: US Congress endorses use of force against Iraq over UN inspections crisis.

3/11: Iraq threatens to fire on US U2 surveillance flights over its territory.

3/11: Israel-PA sessions at State Department recess quickly over agenda dispute.

4/11: Tel Aviv court rules against Ariel Sharon in libel suit over Ha'aretz article charging he misled former PM Menachem Begin during Lebanon war.

4/11: Progress reported in Israel-PA talks over seaport in Gaza Strip.

4/11: Catholic official refutes Israel government report on PA persecution of Christians.

5/11: Israel, PA sub-committees hold talks over PA airport, safe passage for PA VIPs, and joint industrial park on Israel-Gaza boundary.

5/11: Iraqi opposition charges Saddam is hiding weapons secrets at PA embassy in Baghdad.

6/11: Israel-PA talks conclude as plans for Netanyahu-Madeleine Albright meeting unfold.

6/11: Palestinian source says Saddam is operating spy network in PA areas.

7/11: Former GSS head Carmi Gillon confirms Raviv was an agent who infiltrated the extreme right wing.

8/11: Up to 200,000 gather in Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin for memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin.

8/11: Netanyahu puts off contentious "primaries" issue on eve of Likud Party convention.

9/11: Clinton calls for "strong UN action" to force Iraqi compliance with inspections.

10/11: Israeli Cabinet approves release of secret appendix to an official report on the Rabin assassination, which deals with on GSS agent Raviv's activities.

10/11: US seeks tighter UN sanctions before using force against Iraq; Palestinians take to the streets in pro-Saddam protests similar to those during Gulf War.

11/11: Raucous Likud convention sees split between central committee and ministers over party primary issue; committee backs Netanyahu and votes to scrap primary system.

11/11: EU issues warning to importers over alleged Israeli violations of free trade agreement.

11/11: Report: PA security chiefs Jibril Rajoub (Judea-Samaria) and Mohammed Dahlan (Gaza) are preparing to succeed an ailing Arafat.

12/11: Netanyahu calls for national reconciliation on day marking second anniversary of Rabin's murder.

12/11: UN Security Council condemns Iraqi defiance of weapons searches.

12/11: US jury convicts Islamic militants Ramzi Yousef, Eyad Ismoil for 1993 bombing of World Trade Centre that killed six, wounded 1,000.

13/11: Hussein expels US members of UN weapons inspection teams; UN condemns Iraq again, and threatens severe consequences.

13/11: Netanyahu in UK, meets PM Tony Blair, addresses MPs on risks posed by Iraq, Iran.

13/11: Arafat says PA will declare Palestinian statehood in 1999--unilaterally, if necessary.

14/11: US and England agree to bolster forces in the Gulf. Tensions rise.

14/11: Meeting in UK, Albright tells Netanyahu a "greater sense of urgency" was required to overcome impasse in Oslo talks.

15/11: After Albright holds talks with Arafat in Switzerland, Netanyahu says gap between Israel and PA is narrowing.

15/11: Reporters question Arafat on his shaky appearance during Swiss press conference; Arafat says he is just tired.

15/11: Mutiny swells in Likud over convention debacle; several senior ministers and MKs reportedly seeking ways to replace Netanyahu.

16/11: Clinton sends second US aircraft carrier to the Gulf.

16/11: Top Israeli neurologist warns that Arafat may have Parkinson's Disease; PA dismisses claim as "propaganda".

17/11: Islamist gunmen in Egypt kill 60 tourists in worst outrage in years.

17/11: Middle East-North Africa economic summit in Qatar: Egypt and PA among Arab parties boycotting the event over peace process problems; Israeli officials object to attempts by participants to include "land for peace" formula in final communique.

18/11: Netanyahu and King Hussein hold hastily-arranged meeting in London, discuss Iraqi crisis.

18/11: IDF officers not overly concerned about risks posed to Israel by Iraqi standoff.


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