Important Faces
Important Places
Historic Time Line

Important Faces

Ariel Sharon (ah-ree-EL shah-ROHN)
Israeli Prime Minister

Ariel Sharon is a lifelong military man with strong conservative convictions. His top priority is to provide a safe land for Jews to live. During his campaign, he said that he was willing to make peace, but not if it means giving Palestinians control over the Israeli capital of Jerusalem or risking national security. His critics fear that his hawkish, or aggressive military positions, have worsened the current conflict.

Yasir Arafat (YAH-seer ahr-uh-FAT)
Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization

Yasir Arafat has been the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 1969. The goal of the PLO is to create an independent Palestinian state. He has long been the most powerful representative of the Palestinian cause. His critics believe that he has done too little to stop terrorism.

Benjamin Netanyahu (neh tahn YAH hoo)
Israeli Foreign Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu was the Prime Minister of Israel from 1996 to 1999. As Prime Minister, Netanyahu was critical of the peace agreements between Israel and the PLO. He argued that the agreements should have done more to guarantee Israel's security. Netanyahu angered Palestinians when he expanded settlements in the West Bank and built Israeli housing in East Jerusalem.

Amram Mitznah (am rahm MITZ nah)
Israeli Foreign Minister

Amram Mitznah is the leader of the Labor party, which rivals to Ariel Sharon's Likud party. Mitzna wants to restart peace talks with Palestinians immediately. Sharon will only renew peace talks after the violence stops.

Israelis do not vote directly for their Prime Minister; they vote for a party. If the Likud party loses ground to the Labor party, Mitznah would become Israel's leader.

George W. Bush
President of the United States

George W. Bush became President on January 20, 2001. His administration has consistently supported Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government and called for Yasir Arafat to do more to stop terrorism.

Bush's administration created a three-phase plan calling for a Palestinian state to be established by 2005. The UN, the European Union, and Russia helped draft the plan. Israelis and Palestinians, however, have been skeptical of it.

Kofi Annan (KOH-fee an-UHN)
United Nations Secretary General

Kofi Annan is originally from the African country of Ghana. He has been United Nations Secretary General since 1997. In this role he works for international peace, encourages human rights, and promotes international equality and acceptance. He won a Nobel Peace Prize last year.

The UN has long been an important force in Middle Eastern politics. It was a UN resolution that created the state of Israel. Throughout the conflict, the UN has sent peacekeepers and diplomats to the region.

Hosni Mubarak (HAHS-nee muh-BAHR-ak)
Egyptian President

Hosni Mubarak has been the Egyptian President since 1981. He believes that the only way to bring peace to the Middle East is to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction. He also believes that Israel will not achieve security until it renews talks to create a Palestinian state.

Over the past few decades, Egypt has been on friendlier terms with Israel than any other Arab nation. Recent events, however, have chilled their relationship.

King Abdullah II (ab-DUHL-uh or ab-DOOL-lah)
Jordanian King

King Abdullah has ruled over Jordan since 1999, when his father (who was king for 47 years) died of cancer. His country has better relations with Israel than many Arab nations.

Seventy percent of Jordan's population is Palestinian, so the current conflict has strained the relationship between the nations.

David Satterfield
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East

Despite recent outbreaks of violence, David Satterfield recently traveled to the Middle East in hopes of renewing peace talks. During this trip, he urged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to loosen travel restrictions and curfews put on the Palestians. He also appealed to Palestinians to end attacks on Israeli citizens. During discussions with Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian officials, Satterfield promoted a peace plan that calls for Palestinian reforms and the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

Photo Credits: AP/Wide World

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