1.10.97 Israel releases from prison Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, founder of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, and sends him to Jordan in a reported deal to free two Israeli Mossad agents held in Amman after a failed assassination attempt against Khalid Mesh'al, prominent Hamas leader in Jordan. Yassin, 61, who had served eight years of a life term, was jailed by Israel in 1989 for ordering the murder of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel and for ordering attacks by Hamas guerrillas against Israeli targets. According to Israeli authorities, Yassin was released on the request of King Hussein and because of his physical condition. Yassin is confined to his wheelchair and suffers from chronic breathing problems, internal infections, muscular deterioration and hearing loss.

1.10.97 Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafj, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza, submits his resignation to PLC Speaker Ahmad Qrei' in protest against the non-implementation of several decisions taken by the PLC.

1.10.97 During the Jewish holiday celebrations, the Israeli authorities impose a tight military closure on all Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza.

1.10.97 Israeli president Ezer Weizman issues a pardon for two Jewish prisoners, who were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in 1993 for throwing hand grenades in the meat market of the Old City of Jerusalem, killing Palestinian Abdel Razeq Dkeidek, 70, and injuring 10 others.

1.10.97 In a meeting with investors and businessmen in New York, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright criticizes the Israeli resumption of settlement activity on Palestinian land.

5.10.97 At a meeting of the Israeli security cabinet in Jerusalem, Mossad chief Danny Yatom assumes responsibility for planning the attempted assassination by Mossad agents of Khalid Mesh'al in Amman.

6.10.97 Palestinian and Israeli negotiators resume talks in Jerusalem, with PLO secretary Mahmoud Abbas heading the Palestinian delegation and Israel's foreign minister, David Levy, heading the Israeli. US Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross attends the meeting, during which it is agreed to set up a mechanism for activating the eight joint sub-committees.

8.10.97 For the first time in eight months, Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Vasser Arafat hold a 2Yz-hour face-to-face talk at Erez Checkpoint in the presence of Dennis Ross. The latter declares, "They reaffirmed their commitment to achieving peace with security and agreed to the resumption of contacts at all levels, including between the leaders."

8.10.97 Two Israeli soldiers are killed and six others are wounded in an explosion in South Lebanon. In the period under review, there are many armed clashes, with dead and wounded on both sides.

9.10.97 The Israeli police announce the arrest of two Palestinians near Kidar settlement. In their car they were carrying 50 kgs of explosives used for blasting rocks in quarries.

11.10.97 An Israeli army unit kills a Jordanian citizen who infiltrated into Israel from Jordan in the Wadi Araba region.

11.10.97 Under-Secretary of State Eizenstat says, "Peace will never prevail in the Middle East unless improvement is seen in the lives of Palestinians."

13.10.97 Two nearly completed homes are demolished near AI-Aroub refugee camp on the main Bethlehem-Hebron road. The houses are destroyed shortly after Israeli PM Netanyahu announces that the government will allow the construction of 300 new units in the settlement of Efrat.

14.10.97 Four Syrian citizens from Massadeh village in the occupied Golan Heights are arrested for having thrown Molotov cocktails at an Israeli police station in their village the previous week. High tension has been prevailing in parts of the occupied Golan following an Israeli decision to seize lands belonging to the village of Ain Quiniya for the expansion of a settlement there.

14.10.97 As part of the deal between Jordan and Israel following the botched assassination attempt against Mesh'al in Jordan, Israel releases eight Palestinians and one Jordanian held in Israeli prisons. They are transferred by helicopter to Jordan where they are expected to finish their prison sentences.

18.10.97 One Israeli soldier is killed and two others injured in an anti-tank missile attack by Hizbullah in South Lebanon.

18.10.97 Nine Egyptian parliamentarians announce the establishment of a popular committee to boycott Israeli products in response to Israeli aggressive policies in the region. The committee will also boycott US products to protest the Administration's bias towards Israel.

19.10.97 Sheikh Ahmad Yassin says that Hamas militants have halted attacks on Israel, adding that "the cooling-off period would last only if Israel stops its punitive measures, such as economic closures, house demolitions and land seizures, against Palestinian civilians. David Bar-Illan, advisor to PM Netanyahu, says Israel welcomes the "change of tone" in Yassin's statements, but there are too many strings attached to make his cease-fire proposal credible.

20.10.97 President Yasser Arafat meets with US Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross in Ramallah. Arafat stresses the need for the implementation of interim-phase agreements and for the halting of Israeli unilateral actions.

21.10.97 President Arafat describes his meeting in Beit Hannun with Israel's Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai as important and aimed at finding ways to push the peace process forward.

22.10.97 itaf Ilayan, a Palestinian woman prisoner, starts an open-ended hunger strike in Tel Mond prison in protest against her arbitrary arrest on 21.10.97 when she entered Area C of the West Bank. Ilayan is the only administrative woman detainee among 500 other Palestinians currently incarcerated in Israeli prisons without charge or trial. Ilayan had already served a la-year prison term and was released along with 31 Palestinian women prisoners on 12.2.97.

28.10.97 Israeli bulldozers destroy three homes near Bethlehem, leaving at least 10 people homeless. The houses are located in Area C, where it is impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits.

1.11.97 In an interview with the Washington Post, King Hussein of Jordan says he does not have much confidence in Israeli PM Netanyahu, but insists that Jordan will not back down on its "normalization" policy with Israel.

3.11.97 Headed by PLO Secretary Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, Palestinian-Israeli pecce talks begin in Washington for the negotiation of suspended issues of the interim phase.

6.11.97 The Palestinian Authority (PA) demands the donor countries that met in Washington to honor their obligations and cover the PA's budget deficit estimated at $120 million. The deficit is a result of the continued Israeli closure imposed on the Palestinian areas, and of the refusal of Israel to transfer all taxes it collected on behalf of the PA.

8.11.97 Over 250,000 Israelis gather at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to mark the second anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. Former Israeli PM Shimon Peres says, "Peace is stronger than any government."

8.11.97 President Vasser Arafat says that PM Netanyahu's dismissal of US calls for a postponement of Israeli settlement building did not surprise him. Netanyahu told visiting American Jewish leaders on 7.11.97 that the growth of Jewish communities in the territories was a "non-issue," and added that a US request for a "time-out" on settlement building "cannot be a unilateral Israeli exercise."

9.11.97 PM Netanyahu reiterates during a Likud conference his refusal to implement any withdrawal from Palestinian territory if the Palestinian Authority does not fight terrorism.

11.11.97 Minister of the Islamic Waqf Hassan Tahboub says the agreement signed between Israel and the Vatican to give the Catholic Church legal status in Jerusalem is a new blow to the peace process, because the status of the city should be determined on the negotiating table and not by unilateral steps aimed at creating facts.

12.11.97 The White House announces that US President Bill Clinton will not meet with Israeli PM Netanyahu scheduled to visit Washington.

14.11.97 Secretary of State Albright meets with Israeli PM Netanyahu in London, and the following day with President Arafat in Geneva. Both meetings fail to achieve concrete results.

15.11.97 Ali Jawarish, 7, is declared brain-dead after being shot in the head by live bullets by an Israeli soldier during clashes at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem on 11.11.97. His parents donate his organs to medicine, regardless of whether they will save the lives of Arab or Israeli children.

18.11.97 King Hussein of Jordan meets with Israeli PM Netanyahu in London. The meeting is the first after the failed assassination attempt against Hamas activist Khalid Mesh'al in Jordan.

18.11.97 Israeli Defense Minister Mordechai ratifies a plan that allows 30,000 Palestinian workers to enter Israel for work, even during intensified closures.

19.11.97 Peres (Labor MK) meets with PA President Vasser Arafat in Gaza to discuss the peace process. Peres says, "The talks were serious and focused on economics ... The peace process stands on two legs - one political, the other economic. "

20.11.97 wish seminary student is killed and another critically wounded in a shooting in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The two are students at the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva.

21.11.97 Kanawati, a Salvadoran of Palestinian origin, is shot dead by Israeli Border Police as he enters Bethlehem through the main military checkpoint. An Israeli military spokesman claims that Jimmy refused to slow down as soldiers attempted to stop the vehicle.

21.11.97 an emotional White House ceremony sponsored jointly by the Rabin Foundation and the Peres Foundation, at which he received a "Man of Peace" award of $75,000, US President Bill Clinton says, "Both sides have to realize the need for urgency ... The window of progress will become smaller with time. The frustration of ordinary people - both Israelis and Palestinians - will grow in the absence of progress."

24.11.97 political prisoners detained without charge or trial since mid-October, start a hunger strike at Jneid prison in Nablus. The detainees are seeking an end to political detention and to prolonged incarceration without charge or trial.

25.11.97 As a confidence-building measure, the Israeli and Jordanian navies hold joint exercises in the Gulf of Eilat, the first of its kind since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994.

27.11.97 Peace Now accuses the Israeli government of planning to establish five new industrial zones in the West Bank in a move designed to torpedo any chance of further redeployment of Israeli forces. The zones would be built on thousands of dunums of land in Area B, and would create buffers between Israeli settlements and Palestinian villages.

29.11.97 More than 40 Palestinians and four Israeli soldiers are wounded in clashes in Bethlehem. The Palestinians were protesting the continued administrative detention of a Palestinian woman, Itaf Ilayan, of the Islamic Jihad group, who has been on a hunger strike for over a month in an effort to gain her freedom.

1.12.97 Israeli PM Netanyahu threatens to annex the West Bank if President Arafat announces the establishment of the Palestinian state on May 4,1999, the date when the interim period is supposed to end and final-status negotiations are supposed to have been

2.12.97 The Israeli Peace Now movement demands that the government transfer 50 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, even before the final-status agreement is in place, and turn Area B, which is today divided into 190 separate "islands," into a contiguous Palestinian territory.

2.12.97 The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations convenes in an emergency meeting to discuss the soured relations between Clinton and Netanyahu, and takes an unusual decision not to support the Israeli PM against the American president.

3.12.97 The US Department of State refuses the Israeli proposal of a limited withdrawal from the West Bank.

4.12.97 Israeli security sources say Hamas is planning to abduct Israeli soldiers and to keep them as hostages to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

6.12.97 In a Chirac-Netanyahu meeting, the French president says, "Israel's steps are not enough to meet the requirements for the resumption of the peace process."

6.12.97 In her second meeting in Paris with PM Netanyahu in the space of 36 hours, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright informs him of the "range" which the US expects of the second pullback from the West Bank.

6.12.97 Six people are shot dead in a violent confrontation between Palestinian residents of Rafah and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as the soldiers try to disperse a demonstration over a disputed plot of land.

7.12.97 Hizbullah General Secretary Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah hints that Israel has agreed to the demand by his organization to exchange Hizbullah prisoners for the remains of Sergeant Major Hamar Iliya, one of the 12 Israeli soldiers killed in the failed naval commando mission in Lebanon in early September.

7.12.97 The 55-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (Ole), meeting in Teheran to prepare for an Islamic summit, adopts a draft which urges "member states which have started to take steps towards establishing relations with Israel within the framework of the peace process to reconsider their relations with Israel."

11.12.97 In a step aimed at setting economic and social priorities, the PA conducts its first census to gather data on the living conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The survey in East Jerusalem is carried out, despite Israeli protests and legislation banning such activity.

14.12.97 An EU statement, stongly criticized by Israel, expresses concern for the deadlock in the peace process and calls for a more effective EU role in the process.

15.12.97 Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai tells reporters at Ariel settlement, near Nablus in the West Bank, that the results of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations will cause "minor" damage to some settlements.

15.12.97 The Israeli army destroys two Palestinian homes and seals two others in Asira AI-Shamaliya village, owned by the relatives of those allegedly involved in the July 30 and September 4 suicide bombings inside Israel.

17.12.97 Syrian President Hafez AI-Assad says that his country is ready to resume peace talks with Israel from the point where they stopped on March 1996.

18.12.97 Secretary of State Albright meets with PM Netanyahu in Paris and, a few hours later, with President Arafat in London to discuss the peace process and the delayed Israeli pullback from the West Bank. Netanyahu fails to present her with a detailed plan for an overdue troop withdrawal.

18.12.97 President Arafat meets with British PM Tony Blair in London. Arafat says the meeting is positive and shows understanding by the British of the Palestinian position regarding the impasse in the peace process.

21.12.97 Israeli PM Netanyahu says: "No settlement will be removed from its present location in the context of a final settlement; settlements will remain under total Israeli control."

24.12.97 The Israeli police discloses news about the arrest at Ben-Gurion Airport of German citizen Stefan Joseph Merk, 26, who arrived to Israel to plan and carry out a suicide attack in Tel Aviv or Haifa. Israel claims that Stefan was recruited by Hizbullah.

27.12.97 Police Chief Assaf Hefetz says that the Israeli military has arrested an extremist Jewish group which planned to launch terrorist attacks against Palestinians.

30.12.97The Israeli peace bloc calls for an international boycott of produce of Israeli settlements located in Palestinian territories.
In this period in the occupied territories, 2 Palestinians and 1 Palestinian child were killed by the Israeli Security Forces and 1 Israeli civilian was killed by Palestinians. Within the Green Line, 1 Israeli civilian was killed by Palestinians.

Above figures from B'Tselem