Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Background, Conflicts, and U.S. Policy [Updated August 4, 2006] [open pdf - 243KB]
"PA Chairman/President Yasir Arafat died on November 11, 2004; on January 9, 2005, Mahmud Abbas was elected to succeed him and seeks final status talks. Since Hamas, which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist group, won the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, however, the situation has been complicated. Israeli officials have offered ideas for unilateral disengagement from more of the West Bank, but not a fully developed plan. The U.S. Administration and others have urged them to negotiate first. The recent kidnapings of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah sparked conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon and cast new shadows on the prospects for future talks. Congress is interested in issues related to Middle East peace because of its oversight role in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, its support for Israel, and keen constituent interest. It is especially concerned about U.S. financial and other commitments to the parties. Members have also repeatedly endorsed Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, although U.S. Administrations have consistently maintained that the fate of the city is the subject of final status negotiations."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33530