Marianne Heiberg (1945-2004)
"She helped instigate the secret talks that led to the Oslo Accords, signed on the White House lawn on September 13 1993.
"Heiberg and her husband, Johan Jorgen Holst (Norwegian foreign minister after April 1993) hosted, fed, entertained and mediated between Arab and Israeli negotiators at their country home in Smestad.
"A confluence of factors made Heiberg a pragmatic peace broker. In 1988 the Norwegian Trade Union Centre for Social Science and Research (FAFO) commissioned her to survey Palestinian living conditions in Gaza and the West Bank. By the time she was finishing her report, in late 1992, Israeli and Palestinian delegates had spent a largely fruitless year negotiating in Washington. Then, in June 1992, Israel's Yitzhak Rabin ousted the rightist Likud and cautiously approved "back channels" to the PLO. Though first attempts failed, junior minister Yossi Beilin discovered ideal intermediaries in FAFO. Heiberg and FAFO director Terje Rod-Larsen enjoyed close relations with both the PLO and Rabin's Labour party. The Norwegians facilitated preliminary meetings in London between the two parties, which eventually led to the Oslo Accords...
"After working for the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Heiberg became a senior researcher at NUPI, the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, from 1983 to 2004. During 1994-95, Heiberg directed the Jerusalem field office of the UN Relief and Work Agency, which aids Palestinian refugees. From 1995 to 1997 she was special adviser to Unesco's Culture for Peace programme. In 1998 she presciently warned that global terror would intensify. And in March 2004 she was quick to explain why the Basque Eta was probably not behind the Madrid railway bombings - contrary to official Spanish pronouncements."