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Yearbook 1996

1996 IsraelIsrael. After rolling according to plan for several years, the peace process between Israel and Palestine seemed to stop in 1996. Militant Islamists carried out terrorist attacks in Israel, which helped Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the conservative Likud and opponents of the peace process, take over government power at the May elections.

According to, nearly 60 people were killed in four blasts in February-March in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and outside Ashqelon. Militant Islamists from Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement), who believe that the peace process involves excessive concessions to Israel, blasted themselves into the air in order to deter Israelis from further closer ties with the Palestinians. However, Prime Minister Shimon Peres responded only with conventional means: mass arrests and barring the autonomous Palestinian territories.

1996 Israel

In April, when only six weeks remained for the parliamentary elections, it was called again, this time at the border with Lebanon. The Iran-backed guerrilla Hizbullah (God Party) fired small towns in northern Israel, and now Israel responded with grenades and missiles in an operation called the Grapes of Wrath. On April 18, 13 Israeli grenades fired at one of the UN refugee camps in the Lebanese city of Qana. At least 100 people were killed. "A very serious mistake" was Israel's explanation, but according to a UN report, Israel probably knew that it was a refugee camp that was the target. A few days later, the fighting for American mediation was interrupted.

The shooting of Lebanon was not enough to profile Peres and the Labor Party as a guarantor of Israeli security ahead of the May 29 parliamentary elections. Netanyahu won, albeit by less than one percentage point, after an election campaign in which he played on the Israelis' fears by swearing never to return the occupied Golan Heights to Syria, never giving the Palestinians their own state and never even discussing Jerusalem's future status.

With the change of government, the peace process was stalled. Netanyahu announced that settlements on the West Bank would continue to expand, and Palestinians became increasingly frustrated. The drop came when Israel in September opened a new exit from an archaeological tunnel under part of central Jerusalem, near the Klipp Mosque and al-Aqsa Mosque. The protests began with stones and bottles met by tear gas and rubber bullets, but soon escalated into regular war between the Israeli army and the Palestinian troops in the autonomous territories. To stop the fighting, US President Bill Clinton called Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to a summit in Washington.

At the end of the year, both sides had contacts that touched on the city of Hebron on the West Bank. According to the peace agreement, Israel would have handed Hebron into Palestinian hands even before the election, but the issue of 450 Jewish settlers in the city has caused the surrender to be postponed. If Netanyahu hands over the city, it means that all agreements already entered into have been fulfilled; If the peace process is to continue, new negotiations must begin.

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