With the situation in the Middle East “very tense and likely to remain so” pending a comprehensive settlement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended extending for six months the United Nations operation supervising the disengagement of Syrian and Israeli forces.
In a report report to the Security Council released today at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan states that while the situation in the Israeli-Syrian sector has been generally quiet, the continued presence of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) – first deployed in 1974 – remains essential. He notes that both Syria and Israel have agreed to the proposed extension, which would carry the Force through 30 November.
Commenting on the general need to resolve the current Middle East crisis, the Secretary-General writes, “I hope that determined efforts will be made by all concerned to tackle the problem in all its aspects, with a view to arriving at a just and durable peace settlement, as called for by the Security Council in its resolution 338 (1973).”
That text called for peace talks and reaffirmed an earlier milestone Council resolution – 242 of 1967 – which requires the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all occupied territories and an end to all claims of belligerency, as well as an acknowledgement of the right of all States in the region to live in peace. Together, resolutions 242 and 338 are considered the basis for an overall settlement in the Middle East.
In recommending the UNDOF extension, the Secretary-General draws attention to the current funding shortfall faced by the Force, which was owed $15.7 million in unpaid dues as of the end of April.
The Security Council is expected to discuss the proposed extension before the expiration of UNDOF’s current mandate on 30 May.