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Temporary International Presence in Hebron: History

On 25 February 1994, an Israeli citizen and resident of the Kiryat Arba Settlement opened fire at the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpela during Friday dawn prayers, killing 29 Palestinian worshippers. The UN Security Council's Resolution No. 904 condemned the massacre and called for measures to be taken to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinians throughout the occupied territory. This resolution called for a temporary international presence, which was provided for in the Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993.

Following the massacre in Hebron, Yasser Arafat announced a PLO's withdrawal from any further peace negotiation with Israel unless Israel agreed to a presence of international observers in the city of Hebron. On 31 March 1994, representatives from the PLO and Israel signed an agreement asking Italy, Denmark and Norway to provide support staff and observers for a Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron (TIPH). Its main mandate would be to assist in promoting stability and restoring normal life in the city of Hebron.

The three countries responded positively to the request and a team representing all three nations arrived in the West Bank in early April the same year in order to make a logistical assessment. The TIPH mission was subsequently set up on 8 May 1994. Moreover, the PLO and the Israeli government, could not reach an agreement on an extension of the mandate, and TIPH withdrew from Hebron on 8 August 1994.

The peace negotiations between the PLO and the Israeli government continued. The Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (also known as "Taba," or "Oslo II Agreement"), dated 28 September 1995, called for partial redeployment of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from Hebron. An article in the same agreement called for another temporary international presence to be established, this time during the redeployment of the IDF from the city. Subsequently, negotiations were initiated between the two parties and Norway on the establishment of a TIPH in accordance with the Interim Agreement.

Norway had already committed itself to participation in a TIPH mission through its involvement in, and support of, the Interim Agreement. The agreement now being drafted by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government, called for Norway to establish a TIPH mission with Norwegian members only. The TIPH mission established under this agreement would then be replaced by a new TIPH mission under a new agreement, upon the IDF's redeployment in Hebron. The second TIPH mission was set up on 12 May 1996. It had its mandate renewed on a monthly basis awaiting the partial Israeli redeployment from Hebron, which finally took place on 17 January 1997.

The two parties signed a new agreement on 21 January 1997. It called for Norway, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey to provide personnel for TIPH, with Norway in the role as coordinator. The agreement also delineated the tasks of TIPH and set the mandate period to three months, renewable for an additional period of three months, unless otherwise agreed between the two sides. Furthermore, with the consent of the two sides, the TIPH could extend the period or change its scope of operation, as agreed.

The six participating countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding pursuant to the Agreement on TIPH in Oslo on 30 January 1997. On 1 February 1997, the multinational TIPH mission entered into force.

Sources: Temporary International Presence in Hebron