MIDDLE EAST HOURGLASS:

August 25, 1997: PA police aim weapons at Israeli troops during Arab riots in Bethlehem.

25/8: Binyamin Netanyahu says Yasser Arafat's embrace of Hamas leaders during recent "unity talks" was a kiss of death to hopes for peace.

26/8: Celebrations marking 100th anniversary of Zionist Congress begin in Basel.

26/8: Israeli officers accuse PA police of encouraging violent Bethlehem protests.

26/8: Syria promises peace if Israel withdraws from southern Lebanon and Golan Heights.

26/8: 79 per cent of Israelis surveyed by Gallup feel Arafat should outlaw Hamas.

27/8: Israel lifts 28-day closure of Bethlehem, imposed after Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem marketplace killed 15.

27/8: Israel shuts down Hamas "charity" centre near Hebron after seizing material praising suicide bombers and calling for acts of terror.

28/8: Four IDF soldiers burnt to death and six hurt after being trapped in a brush fire ignited during fighting in Lebanon; a fifth will later die.

29/8: 300 people, many of them women and children, slaughtered by Islamists in Algeria, the worst carnage in a five-year insurgency.

29/8: PA demands that Israel withdraw troops from more rural areas of Judea-Samaria by September 7; Israel says no.

31/8: Netanyahu appeals to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to free an Israeli Druse, Azzam Azzam, sentenced to 15 years' hard labour for "spying"; Israel has denied the charge.

September 1: Israel eases the security closure on PA areas.

2/9: Netanyahu says the mission of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, due to visit soon, is destined to fail unless PA cracks down on terror.

2/9: Netanyahu slams remarks by PA security chief Jibril Rajoub, who says he regards himself as "a partner in the struggle" of Hamas.

3/9: Netanyahu approves controversial public spending cuts; trade unions threaten action.

4/9: Triple suicide bombing in Jerusalem's main pedestrian mall kills four Israelis, including three young girls; Hamas leaflet claims responsibility.

4/9: Israel re-imposes the recently-lifted security closure on PA areas.

5/9: Twelve Israeli commandos killed by Hizb'Allah in abortive raid near Sidon, Lebanon.

5/9: Israel effectively suspends Oslo process until PA acts to eradicate terror infrastructure.

5/9: In another Algerian massacre, up to 80 civilians are murdered by Islamists.

5/9: US Congress passes resolution warning the PA that, unless it got serious about fighting terror, Oslo will be seriously jeopardised.

6/9: Israeli police at roadblock find illicit weapons in possession of PA security chief Rajoub.

8/9: Fifth victim of Jerusalem mall bombing dies.

8/9: PA slams Israeli request for the extradition of PA civil police chief Ghazi Jabali, suspected of planning attacks on Israelis.

8/9: PA arrests scores of Hamas activists; Israel dismisses action as "window-dressing" for Albright.

10/9: Albright's long-awaited visit begins; she firmly backs Netanyahu's insistence that security be achieved if talks are to resume.

11/9: Israel rejects Albright's call for a "time out" in the expansion of Jewish settlements.

11/9: Netanyahu, Albright discuss Russian involvement in Iranian nuclear programme.

11/9: Albright tells Arafat fighting terror is a 24-hour-a-day job.

12/9: Six Lebanese soldiers and four Hizb'Allah gunmen--including son of Hizb'Allah leader Hassan Nasrallah--killed during clashes with Israelis.

13/9: Israeli, PA security officials meet to discuss fight against terror.

13/9: Left-wing Oslo supporters demonstrate to mark fourth anniversary of signing of accords.

13/9: Two IDF soldiers killed by roadside bombing in south Lebanon.

14/9: 50,000 workers down tools to protest budget cuts; one minister accuses Labour-based trade union federation of trying to undermine government.

14/9: Four Israeli families move into Jewish-owned vacant building on Mount of Olives, east Jerusalem, sparking Arab fury.

14/9: Netanyahu says government will not allow Mount of Olives move.

15/9: Israeli army warns of a possible outbreak of "guerrilla warfare" with the PA police.

16/7: Security service report says Arabs have stepped up illegal building campaign in Jerusalem.

17/8: Owner of Mount of Olives site seeks court injunction against eviction of residents.

17/8: Arafat threatens "harsh response" if Mount of Olives building isn't vacated.

18/9: Israeli officer killed when Hizb'Allah scores direct hit on his tank.

18/9: Ten tourists and Egyptian driver killed in armed attack perpetrated by suspected Islamists in central Cairo.

18/9: Israel reaches compromise with Mount of Olives group: residents leave, replaced by rotating seminary students to safeguard, renovate building.

18/9: Israeli security service foils Hamas plot to attack Jerusalem's largest mall and kidnap mayor Ehud Olmert.

19/9: US accepts Mount of Olives deal; PLO calls it a "farce".

21/9: Forty Hamas activists arrested during IDF swoop on villages near PA-ruled Nablus.

21/9: Egyptian officials say Arafat blacked out during Cairo Arab foreign ministers' summit; PLO denies chairman is ill.

22/9: Two Israeli security guards shot and wounded near embassy in Amman, Jordan; Islamic group claims responsibility.

23/9: Security service identifies Jerusalem marketplace and pedestrian mall suicide bombers as four young men from a village near Nablus. All four had previously "escaped" from PA custody.

23/9: Military intelligence chief tells government Arafat has freed (without questioning) 40 of the 100 terror suspects arrested just before Albright visited (see 8/9).

24/9: Outgoing US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk says Oslo "dream" is turning into a "nightmare"; US ambassador to Egypt Edward Walker named Indyk's successor.

24/9: Palestinian research centre finds support for suicide bombings has risen from 21 per cent in February to 36 per cent now.

25/9: Netanyahu announces 300 new homes will be built at Efrat Jewish community, south of Jerusalem; US displeased.

25/9: PA arrests scores of Hamas activists.

25/9: Hamas official, Khalid Mashaal, survives what Hamas calls an assassination attempt in Jordan; Two "Canadian tourists" arrested.

27/9: Israel Radio reports that IDF is training for the possibility of war against the PA.

30/9: Israeli official says Iranian missiles will be able to reach Israel by 1999.

October 1: Israel frees Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, jailed for life in 1989 and flies him to Jordan; unconfirmed reports say he was to be exchanged for two "Canadian tourists" arrested after incident in Amman street (see 25/9).

3/10: Canada recalls its ambassador to Israel, furious about the alleged use by Israeli agents of fake Canadian passports during Amman operation; Israel isn't commenting.

6/10: Yassin returns to his Gaza home; Jordan releases the two captured Israeli agents.


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