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Chronology: Conflict in the Middle East since Yasser Arafat's death

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Hamburg_(dpa) _ The violence in the Middle East has escalated since the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat nearly three years ago. A chronology of events:

Januar 9, 2005: Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Mahmoud Abbas is elected Palestinian president with 62.5 per cent of the vote.

February 8, 2005: Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agree to a ceasefire at peace talks in Sharm el Sheik.

September 12, 2005: Israel ends its 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip.

January 26, 2006: The radical Islamist Hamas wins parliamentary elections. Abbas, a member of the moderate Fatah, appoints Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as prime minister.

April 7, 2006: Key financial backers, the European Union and the United States, stop payments to the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

July 12, 2006: After the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by militia from the radical Shiite Hezbollah movement, Israel soldiers march into Lebanon.

February 8, 2007: Hamas and Fatah unite under the mediation of Saudi King Abdullah in Mecca to form a government of unity.

April 24, 2007: Hamas breaks the cessation of hostilities agreed to five months earlier with Israel and fires rockets and shells into the south of Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel retaliates with air raids.

June 12, 2007: Hamas claims large parts of the Gaza Strip, with the armed hostilities taking on the form of a civil war. Hamas strongly rejects demands for an international peacekeeping force.

June 15, 2007: After Hamas takes complete control of the Gaza Strip, Abbas dissolves the Palestinian government and declares a state of emergency. dpa pjd bve ds

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