Chairman of the Jewish Agency: Abraham Burg.
Mike Rosenberg is appointed Director-General of the Jewish Agency's Immigration and Absorption Department.
January 30: The Jewish Agency chairman hails a "breakthrough" in the efforts by international Jewish organizations to get Swiss banks to investigate Jewish claims of assets that have remained dormant since World War II. "Swiss banks have agreed that they will allow international accounting firms working with the commission to search -- without any limitations of Swiss banking secrecy laws -- for Jewish assets remaining in Swiss banks."
February: In response to the decision taken by the Jewish Agency Assembly in June 1996, the Board of Governors establishes a Committee for the Unity of the Jewish People. The committee consists of representatives of all of the religious streams and is co-chaired by Charles Goodman, Chairman of the Board of Governors, and Avraham Burg, Chairman of the Executive.
February: Avraham Burg coins the phrase "One People, One Body"
February: The committee meets with the members of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee for a full discussion of the issues. A summary of the discussions is distributed and put on the Internet. The committee also meets with Natan Sharansky, Minister of Trade and Industry and Chairman of the Interministerial Committee for Israel-Diaspora Affairs.
March: A meeting between Benny Begin MK and the WZO Executive is arranged by Jewish Agency, in an attempt to reach a compromise on the proposed Conversion Law.
April: Avraham Burg attends the conferences of ARZA - the Reform Zionist Movement and of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly to report on developments in Israel.
April: Avraham Burg, Chairman of the Zionist Executive and the Jewish Agency, expresses his deep concern over the impact of a legislation which would authorize only Orthodox conversions in Israel: not only on the Israeli public and many applicants for conversion from the CIS, but also on the ties and dialogue between Israel and the Diaspora communities, particularly in the US where the non-orthodox streams of Judaism represent the majority - and consequently Israel's backbone of support, whether affective, financial or political.
April - June: The Jewish Agency joins with its fundraising partners in an all-out information campaign in the United States and Israel.
April - June: The Jewish Agency contracts with professional lobbyists to bring the case to all Israeli political decision-makers.
April - June: Avraham Burg meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu, members of the cabinet and MKs across the political spectrum to impress upon them the implications for Diaspora Jewry of any change in the religious status quo.
July: The Committee for the Unity of the Jewish People meets with the Israeli Chief Rabbis. It is agreed to formalized ongoing discussions between Jewish Agency and the Chief Rabbis towards creating a joint covenant of understanding.
August: Avraham Burg addresses the Ne'eman Committee which is appointed by the Prime Minister to try and reach a solution to the conversion issue.
October: ORT prepares a discussion on the Internet. The main personage to whom online participants directed their questions is Avraham Burg, the chief representative of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization in Israel. Via the Internet in Israel, Avraham Burg receives questions from an audience that has gathered in the Educational and Cultural Center in Prague. Questions and answers that appear on the computer monitor are screened onto the wall to enable full audience participation. Various topics are covered leading to many interesting exchanges of views, such as on the current role of the World Zionist Organization in the area of compensation for Czech victims of the Holocaust.
December 23: The 33rd Zionist Congress opens in Jerusalem in the midst of a heated debate over the various currents in Judaism.
New immigrants 1997: 66,221.
January 1: An Israeli soldier, Noam Friedman, opens fire on Palestinian passersby in Hebron, wounding seven people. An IDF officer overpowers him and thus prevents a serious tragedy.
January 12: The new attorney general, Roni Bar'on, appointed on January 10, resigns in the wake of wide-spread criticism in the media and by the public of his lack of qualification for the post.
January 15: The government approves the Hebron Agreement, worked out by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, which involves the IDF's withdrawal from parts of the city. Eleven ministers vote in favor of it and seven are opposed. Science Minister Benny Begin, an opponent, announces his resignation from the government.
January 20: The Hebron Bar-On affair becomes public. Reporter Ayala Hasson's exposé of a political deal involving the appointment of Bar'on as attorney general in exchange for support by the Shas party for the Hebron agreement is broadcasted by Israeli TV Channel One. The report evokes a public uproar.
January 25: The government transfers the investigation of the attorney general's appointment to the police. Public figures, MKs, and government ministers, including the prime minister, are questioned during the weeks that follow.
January 29: The government unanimously approves the appointment of Jerusalem's District Court Judge Elyakim Rubinstein as the new attorney general.
February 4: An air disaster takes the lives of 73 Israeli soldiers when two IDF helicopters collide over the Upper Galilee while en route to relieve Israeli forces in southern Lebanon.
February 4: A reform in foreign currency regulations in the country allows Israelis to invest in foreign stock markets as well to exchange Israeli currency for up to 7,000 dollar without having to show proof of a flight ticket abroad, as previously.
February 16: Israeli-Palestinian delegations start discussions on the implementation of the Hebron agreement.
February 26: Riots are feared over Israeli housing plans in Jerusalem.
February: Ratz and Mapam decide to unite Meretz into one political party. A group of Shinui members led by Amnon Rubinstein leave Shinui and join Meretz.
March: The police investigation of the Bar'on affair continues. Lawyers and political figures are questioned. Tension mounts as the investigations continue. The questioning of ministers and MKs sometimes takes 10 hours and more. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is also questioned, frequently attacks the media, and especially Channel One, for its role in the affair.
March 7: In a close vote, the government decides on the extent of the territory to be handed over to the Palestinians during the first phase of the withdrawal from the West Bank.
March 13: In a shocking incident at the Israeli-Jordanian border, a Jordanian soldier opens fire at a group of Israeli schoolgirls who are on a tour of the Naharayim region south of the Yarmuk River, killing seven of the girls. A Jordanian police officer is assigned to the investigation team set up to examine the circumstances of the incident.
March 13: The UN General Assembly criticizes the Israeli housing project in East Jerusalem. (More.)
March 14: The government announces its decision to build a large new neighborhood in southern Jerusalem at Har Homa in the Arab district of Jebel Abu Ghneim in east Jerusalem. This work will spark fierce Palestinian demonstrations throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip and a 19-month breakdown in the peace process. (More.)
March 16: King Hussein of Jordan arrives in Israel to pay condolence visits to the families of the murdered schoolgirls from the town of Bet-Shemesh.
March 21: A Palestinian suicide bomber from a village in the Hebron area blows himself up at the Apropo Cafe in Tel Aviv, causing the death of three young women and dozens of injured. A closure is imposed on the Palestinian territories. (More.)
March 27: Israeli tycoon Shaul Eisenberg, whose business interests spanned the world, dies aged 76.
April: The ongoing closure and the deterioration in relations between Israel and the Palestinians evoke demonstrations and incidents in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, the Gaza Strip, and elsewhere.
April 5: Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat warns of an "explosion" in the peace process.
April 10: Israeli security forces arrest a Hamas cell responsible for the murder of eleven Israelis in the preceding months. The Palestinian Authority assists in efforts to apprehend them. Among the detainees are the terrorists responsible for planning the Apropo Cafe Incident.
April 16: The high-ranking police team investigating the Bar'on affair submits its findings. It recommends indicting Prime Minister Netanyahu, Justice Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, Director of the Prime Minister's Office Avigdor Lieberman, and MK Aryeh Deri for fraud and breach of trust. The political establishment and the public are in turmoil. (More.)
April 17: Chaim Herzog, IDF general, member of the Knesset and sixth President of the State of Israel, dies at the age of 79.
April 17: Prime Minister Netanyahu refuses to quit in the face of the Bar'on affair.
April 20: Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein and State Attorney Edna Arbel reject the police recommendation to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu and Justice Minister Hanegbi but declare that a grave attempt was made to exert control over the state prosecutor's office and that "persons under criminal indictment banded together to determine the appointee to the post of government attorney general." Sufficient evidence is found to indict MK Aryeh Deri. The two legal officials commend the media for filling an important role in the "exposure of a difficult and painful subject."
April 24: Egypt's state prosecutor demands a sentence of life imprisonment for Israeli Druze citizen Azam Azam, arrested in Egypt in 1996 on charges of spying.
April: The Knesset passes the first reading of a Bill to authorize only Orthodox conversions in Israel, with a comfortable majority.
May 3: A mass demonstration takes place in front of the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem demanding the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the attorney general affair.
May 8: A Palestinian land dealer is murdered by Palestinians on suspicion of selling land to Israelis. Other such murders follow.
May 12: Businessman Zvi Ben-Ari (Gregory Lerner), suspected of belonging ot the "Russian Mafia" in Israel, is arrested for large-scale fraud and for attempted murder in Russia.
May 18: Transportation Minister Yitzhak Levy decides that Bar Ilan Street in Jerusalem, the subject of violent contention, will be closed on the Shabbat and holidays during prayer time.
June 3: MK Ehud Barak, former chief of staff and foreign minister, is elected the new leader of the Labor Party, defeating MKS Yossi Beilin, Shlomo Ben-Ami and Ephraim Sneh.
June 12: Egyptian envoy Osama el-Baz meets with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to revive peace talks.
June 14: Hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators using stones and firebombs clash with Israeli police in the West Bank town of Hebron. Thirty Palestinians are slightly injured by rubber bullets.
June 17: The government contends with a new crisis when Finance Minister Dan Meridor resigns over deep-seated differences of opinion with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Other ministers consider resigning as well. Netanyahu will hold the portfolio until 9 July 1997.
June 17: The tension in Hebron mounts. Israeli soldiers fire rubber bullets.
June 20: Palestinians throw firebombs in Hebron.
June 24: The Knesset defeats a motion of no confidence in the government by a vote of 55 to 50 in the wake of Meridor's resignation.
June 28: Thousands demonstrate at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv calling for early elections to the Knesset.
June: Signs of a recession and growing unemployment are evident by the end of the month.
July 9: Yaakov Ne'eman is appointed Minister of Finance.
July 14: The 15th Maccabiah Games open. A tragedy occurs on the opening night when a temporary bridge put over the Yarkon River for access to the stadium collapses, resulting in the death of four members of the Australian contingent and the injury of dozens of others. Sharp criticism is levelled against the planners, the builders and the Maccabiah authorities.
July 30: Explosions by Hamas suicide bombers in the Mahaneh Yehuda market in Jerusalem cause 16 deaths and over 150 wounded.
August 6: In an insurrection in Military Jail No. 6, 16 prisoners overpower their guards and hold them hostage. Following a day of negotiations, an agreement is reached in which the IDF promises to investigate the prisoners' demands for improved conditions and not bring them to trial. This agreement is later breached.
August 28: Incidents in southern Lebanon continue throughout the month. Four IDF soldiers are burned to death in a brush fire that breaks out in the wake of Israeli artillery fire. Katyusha rockets hit Galilee settlements.
August 31: Azam Azam is convicted in Egypt of spying for Israel and is sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labor.
September 4: In yet another suicide terrorist attack in Jerusalem, three suicide bombers set off explosives in the ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, causing the death of seven persons and injuries to some 200.
September 5: A failed Israeli naval commando operation in southern Lebanon results in 11 IDF fatalities and one soldier missing.
September 5: In the largest privatization transaction in Israel yet, 43% of Bank Hapoalim stock is acquired by an investment group headed by business magnate Ted Arison.
September 10 - 11: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, visiting the region for the first time in her new capacity, expresses disappointment over her discussions with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
September 10: U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will press Yasser Arafat to "root out" terrorism.
September 10: Right-wing extremist Ya'acov Schwartz kidnaps himself in order to demonstrate to visiting Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that all of the Arabs are nothing but murderers and kidnappers, and no one should believe them. The search for him costs NIS 1 million.
September 14 - 18: The Ras al-Amud Affair breaks out in the wake of the entry by three families of Jewish settlers into a complex of houses in an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem acquired by an American, Irving Moskowitz. The act elicits tension in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority and is widely criticizes. The government is not anxious for a new confrontation, and after prolonged negotiations, the three families are evacuated, to be replaced by ten Yeshiva students delineated as guards and maintenance personel. (More.)
September 22: A shooting incident in Jordan results in the wounding of two Israeli embassy guards in Amman.
September 25: Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak, speaking in the name of the party, asks forgiveness retroactively from Israelis who had immigrated from the Arab states during the 1950s und 1960s for the condescending attitude displayed to them by Labor's predecessor, Mapai, the party in power then.
September 25: The Mash'al Affair begins. Mossad agents fail at an attempt to elimante a senior Hamas figure in Jordan, Khaled Mash'al. Two operatives are caught and 4 others are sheltered in the Israeli embassy in Amman. King Hussein is furious. Mash'al, who has been poisened, is saved by an Israeli physician, after US President has forced President Netanyahu to hand over the antidote. Netanyahu rushes with a high-ranking delegation to Jordan in an effort to salvage relations with it. An agreement is reached in which the agents are returned to Israel in return for the release of Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin, held by Israel.
September 28: The Histadrut holds a nationwide one-day strike to protest the government's refusal to adhere to pension agreements signed by the previous government, as well as privatization steps taken without consultation with workers.
September 29: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announces that the Palestinian Authority and Israel have agreed to end a six-month stalemate and resume negotiations.
October 6: The two Mossad agents arrested by the Jordanians in connection with the Mash'al incident are returned to Israel. In exchange, Israel frees Sheikh Yassin along with several dozen Palestinian prisoners.
October 8: A roadside explosive device laid by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon causes the death of 2 IDF soldiers, with 6 wounded.
October 11: Jordan announces the freezing of security cooperation with Israel.
October 26: Morocco freezes relations with Israel.
November 4: Memorial ceremonies and protest assemblies are held throughout Israel, marking the second anniversary of Rabin's assassination.
November 16: The Irbid Qualifying Industrial Zone agreement is signed between the governments of Israel and Jordan.
November 19: A shooting in the Old City of Jerusalem causes the death of one Yeshiva student and the wounding of another.
November 19: Yitzhak Moda'i, Chairman of the Association for the State's 50th Anniversary, proposes a large-scale amnesty to mark the event. The issue prompts public as well as political debate.
November 23: The all-powerful director of the Prime Minister's Office, Avigdor Lieberman, announces his resignation.
November 30: A strike of the governmental administrative sector is declared, gradually expanding to the rest of the economy, at the instigation of Histadrut Chairman Amir Perez. It lasts over a week.
December 1 - 7: Work disputes continue. A statement by Finance Minister Ya'kov Ne'eman that Israeli workers are "selfdestructing bombs" prompts the Histadrut to announce a general strike.
December 15: In a surprise development, the rise of the cost-of-living is only 0.3% for the month of November, the lowest figure since May 1952. Unemployment figures, however, are worrisome: 151,600 are jobless.
December 16: Agitated demonstrations take place in Ofakim, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country - some 15%. Attempts are made thereafter to aid the town, including a visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who presents a list of work-places prepared to employ the jobless.
December 28: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some cabinet ministers tour the West Bank and say some sections of the territory were too important to be ceded to the Palestinians.
December 29: Charges of corruption in his government and a looming no-confidence vote force Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to promise to assemble a new cabinet.
December 31: Turkey signals its desire to strengthen its military co-operation with Israel by granting an Israeli company a seventy-five-million dollar contract to upgrade Turkey's F-5 fighter planes.
December: The coalition is divided over approval of the 1998 budget. It suffers a series of defeats in the Knesset when coalition ministers and MKs vote against it.
December: The annual inflation rate is 7%, the lowest figure in 29 years.
January 14: A security guard of a Swiss bank notices a pile of documents pertaining to Nazi and wartime accounts waiting to be shredded.
January 29: The city of New York considers boycotting Swiss banks. Eight days later, three Swiss banks announce that they will create a humanitarian fund of 100 million Swiss francs (U.S. $70 million). Since most of the Jews who opened these accounts were killed, there are no accurate figures about how much money Jews really placed within the Swiss banks. Jewish organizations believe there could be billions, while the Swiss have only uncovered several million.
March 14: Austrian-born movie director Fred Zinnemann dies. Zinnemann is most famous for "From Here to Eternity", "High Noon", "A Man for all Seasons", Oklahoma!" and "The Nun's Story".
April 4: American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg dies.
April: Pope John Paul II visits the Jewish Community of Sarajevo.
April: The Slovak Ministry of Education distributes to teachers 90,000 copies of "The History of Slovakia and Slovaks", which alleges that Jews did not suffer during the Holocaust and which glorifies Slovakia's wartime fascist government. The book also claims that Jews were well-treated in the concentration camps, that they fared better than the average Slovak during the war, and that the decision to deport whole families to concentration camps was a humanitarian one.
July 27:Belarussian official state television rebroadcasts a documentary that includes a seventeenth century "blood libel" story. The airing of the film coincides with the celebration of the saint's day of the Belarussian Orthodox Church, to which the majority of the population belongs.
August 26 - 31: The Centennial Jubilee of the first Zionist Congress takes place in Basel, Switzerland.
September 17: Switzerland plans the first payments to Holocaust victims.
Stanley B. Prusiner is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Myron S. Scholes is awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Roberto Benigni's movie "La vita è bella" - "Life is Beautiful" tells the story of an Italian Jew who lives in a romantic fairy tale, but must learn how to use that dreamy quality to survive a concentration camp with his young son.