Swiss banks, terror mark a dramatic year 5757

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September 1996

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat meet face to face for the first time.

NEW YORK — The executive committee of the Council of Jewish Federations unanimously votes to form a partnership with the United Jewish Appeal.

ZURICH — Switzerland announces it will move toward lifting its bank secrecy laws, which will allow for inquiries into the whereabouts of Nazi gold and Jewish assets deposited in the country during World War II.

JERUSALEM — Israel's opening of a new entrance to an archaeological tunnel near the Temple Mount triggers violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. Dozens are killed and hundreds more wounded.

October 1996

WASHINGTON — President Clinton hosts a summit with Netanyahu and Arafat.

NEW YORK — The Jewish National Fund is found innocent of fraud, malfeasance and misappropriation of funds but a probe reveals that poor accounting procedures misrepresent how much JNF money is actually sent to Israel.

JERUSALEM — The first yahrzeit of slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is marked.

JERUSALEM — Israel's High Court of Justice rules that women are entitled to equal worship at the Western Wall, allowing the grassroots group Women of the Wall to read from the Torah and wear prayer shawls while worshipping there.

November 1996

WASHINGTON — Jewish voters overwhelmingly back President Clinton's re-election to a second term. As in the last session, there are 10 Jewish senators in Congress.

December 1996

LOS ANGELES — The Union of American Hebrew Congregations rejects a resolution that would have rescinded a 23-year-old rabbinic policy against officiating at interfaith weddings.

ZURICH — The Swiss National Bank publicly acknowledges that it profited from its dealings with Nazi Germany.

WASHINGTON — President Clinton says Israeli settlements are "absolutely" an obstacle to peace.

January 1997

JERUSALEM — Israeli soldier Noam Friedman opens fire in the Hebron market area, wounding seven Palestinians. Friedman said he was compelled to stop the Hebron redeployment.

JERUSALEM — Two bombs explode near Tel Aviv's central bus station, injuring at least 13 people. No one claims responsibility.

NEW YORK — The Vaad Harabonim of Queens, a rabbinical organization, issues a resolution banning women's tefillah (prayer) groups, resulting in widespread media coverage.

JERUSALEM — The Knesset approves the Hebron agreement, transferring most of the West Bank town to the Palestinians while maintaining Israeli control over holy sites and the Jewish enclave.

MOSCOW — Natan Sharansky, Israel's minister of industry and trade, visits Moscow for the first time since he was deported in 1986 in a prisoner exchange. Sharansky had been arrested by the KGB in 1977.

February 1997

WASHINGTON — Research by the Washington Post reveals that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has Jewish roots.

JERUSALEM — Seventy-three Israeli soldiers are killed in Israel's worst air force disaster, when two army helicopters collide en route to southern Lebanon.

ZURICH — The three largest Swiss banks transfer $71 million to establish a humanitarian fund for Holocaust victims.

NEW YORK — A federal jury convicts Lemrick Nelson Jr. of violating the civil rights of Yankel Rosenbaum, the Chassidic Jew murdered during the 1991 Crown Heights riots.

JERUSALEM — Israeli police question government officials, including Netanyahu, about allegations of impropriety surrounding the short-lived appointment of Roni Bar-On as attorney general.

NEW YORK — A 69-year-old Palestinian man from the GazaStrip opens fire on the crowded observatory deck of the Empire State Building, killing one person and wounding six others, before taking his own life.

March 1997

JERUSALEM — Israel breaks ground for construction of a Jewish neighborhood at Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem, despite worldwide opposition to the move.

JERUSALEM — Three Israelis are killed and dozens more wounded in a Hamas suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv cafe on the eve of Purim.

NEW YORK — A little-known group of Orthodox rabbis inflames Jews across the religious spectrum when they declare that Conservative and Reform Judaism are not forms of Judaism.

JERUSALEM — An Israeli pullback from rural West Bank is delayed indefinitely after the Palestinian Authority protests the scope of the first redeployment as too small.

April 1997

JERUSALEM — The Knesset gives preliminary approval to legislation that would codify Orthodox authority over conversions performed in Israel.

JERUSALEM — Israel's attorney general decides not to bring charges against Netanyahu in connection with the Bar-On affair.

WASHINGTON — B'nai B'rith headquarters is quarantined with more than 100 employees inside in a daylong ordeal until federal officials determine that a suspicious package is not dangerous.

JERUSALEM — Israel drops its request to extradite Hamas leader Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook from the United States, opening the way for his deportation to Jordan.

May 1997

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government releases a long-awaited report about Swiss wartime financial dealings with the Nazis. Holocaust survivors could get millions of dollars in restitution for gold looted by the Nazis.

NEW YORK — The New York State Court of Appeals rules that the creation of a public school district in the Satmar Chassidic community of Kiryas Joel is unconstitutional.

JERUSALEM — Several Palestinians who sold land to Jews are found murdered after Palestinian Justice Minister Freih Abu Medein declares that such sales are punishable by death.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government decides to close Jerusalem's Bar Ilan Street to traffic during prayer times on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.

WASHINGTON — The United States proposes reducing aid to Israel and Egypt, and shifting the extra funds to Jordan.

JERUSALEM — Israel's Labor Party endorses the Palestinian right to a state with limited sovereignty.

June 1997

JERUSALEM — Ehud Barak, a former foreign minister and Israel Defense Force chief of staff, is elected head of the Labor Party.

JERUSALEM — Hebron erupts in violence several days after the U.S. House of Representatives reaffirms its support for an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

NEW YORK — A majority of federations ratify the plan for joint operating partnership between the Council of Jewish Federations and the United Jewish Appeal.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law aimed at curbing government interference in religious practices.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court reverses its 12 year-old ruling banning public school teachers from providing remedial instruction in parochial schools.

July 1997

JERUSALEM — Violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers spread throughout Hebron after a Jerusalem woman distributes fliers depicting the prophet Mohammed as a pig stomping on the Koran.

ZURICH — Holocaust survivors around the world scan the list of 1,750 names of dormant accounts published by the Swiss Bankers Association.

MOSCOW — Russian President Boris Yeltsin vetoes a bill that would have placed restrictions on religious activity in Russia.

ROME — An Italian military court gives a reduced sentence to a former Nazi, SS Capt. Erich Priebke, who receives a five-year prison sentence for his role in the 1944 massacre at the Ardeatine Caves near Rome.

NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly's overwhelming passage of a resolution critical of Israeli settlement policy underscores the Jewish state's increasing isolation as the peace process remains stalled.

JERUSALEM — A twin suicide bombing in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market kills 15 Israelis.

August 1997

NEW YORK — Police apprehend a terror cell that planned to carry out suicide bomb attacks in New York city subways.

BASEL, Switzerland — Hundreds gather to mark the centennial of the First Zionist Congress, which lay the foundation for the creation of the Jewish state.

September 1997

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Commemoration of 200th yarhrzeit of Vilna Gaon prompts debate over Lithuania's role during World War II.

JERUSALEM — A triple suicide bombing in Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall kills five Israelis.

JERUSALEM — A botched commando raid in Lebanon leaves 12 Israeli soldiers dead, sparking renewed debate over Israeli policy in southern Lebanon.

NEW YORK — The United Jewish Appeal and the Council of Jewish Federations decide to help raise funds for Reform and Conservative institutions in Israel.

JERUSALEM — U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on her first visit to the Middle East, tells Israelis and Palestinians to make the hard decisions necessary to revive the peace process.