Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin negotiated the first meaningful agreement between Palestinians and Israelis at Oslo in 1993. The Oslo Accords called for mutual recognition and a five-year period during which Israel would remove its troops from major Palestinian population centers. However, the Oslo process failed to produce a definitive peace agreement. After seven years of disillusionment, the Palestinians began an uprising against the occupation in September 2000. Talks in the Red Sea town of Taba offered a moment of hope in late 2000, and when the talks ended the sides declared that they had "never been closer to reaching an agreement."
After that, there were several prominent efforts to reach a settlement, though none succeeded. Most prominent was the "Roadmap" (2003), produced by the "Quartet" of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN. The Roadmap outlined steps towards an independent Palestinian state by 2005. Yet Israel continued to aggressively impose its occupation and to construct many new settlements, while Palestinian violence continued as well, undermining the required provisions of the plan. Israel felt little pressure to make concessions, because it enjoyed unconditional support from the United States.
Various governments and individuals proposed alternatives to the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap. Two important initiatives of this kind were the Saudi Plan (2002) and the Geneva Accord (2003). When released to the public, both plans received extensive media attention as well as regional and international interest, yet the Israeli government rejected both. Quiet conversations between the parties continued, and some hope for new beginnings arose after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. But the Israeli separation "wall" and continued settlement-building led to the election of a Palestinian government headed by Hamas, a hard-line Islamist group. Meanwhile, Israel had turned its back on negotiations and begun a unilateral process of defining its future borders. As Western governments refused aid to a Palestinian authority dominated by Hamas, Israel seized on a border skirmish in 2006 to launch a major military attack on Gaza, setting off a wider and serious regional conflict.