United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for a six-month extension of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which since 1974 has monitored a ceasefire between Israel and Syria.
In a new report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General observes that although the area “has remained generally quiet,” the region is volatile.
“The situation in the Middle East is very tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached,” he writes. Under the prevailing circumstances, he says, UNDOF’s continued presence in the area is “essential.”
In making the recommendation, the Secretary-General voices 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 urged 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.
Both Syria and Israel have agreed to the proposed extension, which would carry the Force through 30 June 2003.