Israeli prime minister, halfheartedly began to take the first steps in implementing a U.S.-led peace initiative, called the road map, in May. Sharon outraged right-wing Israelis when he said Israel's policy toward Palestinians amounted to an occupation. But his efforts ultimately rang hollow: Israel did not dismantle settlements, much less prevent new ones from cropping up, and Sharon continued to build the controversial security barrier that divides Israeli and Palestinian areas. By September, a spate of Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli retaliations dashed hopes for peace.
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