SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS DISENGAGEMENT FORCE
MONITORING ISRAEL-SYRIA CEASEFIRE UNTIL 31 DECEMBER
NEW YORK, 26 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for a further six months, until 31 December. The Force has supervised the ceasefire and disengagement between Israel and Syria since 1974.
Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1488 (2003), the Council called upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973.
Among the provisions of that 1973 text, the Council decided that, immediately and concurrently with the ceasefire, negotiations should start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
Also by that resolution, the Council called upon the parties to begin implementation of resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, which affirmed that fulfilment of Charter principles included withdrawal of Israel’s armed forces from territories occupied in the conflict, and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area.
In an accompanying presidential statement (document S/PRST/2003/9), Council President Sergey Lavrov (Russian Federation) said that the Council’s view had been reflected by the Secretary-General’s statement in his latest report on the Force dated 18 June (document S/2003/655) that “... 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”.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 10:13 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1488 (2003) reads, as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force of 18 June 2003 (S/2003/655), and also reaffirming its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,
“1. Calls upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;
“2. Decides to renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for a period of six months, that is, until 31 December 2003;
“3. Requests the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on the developments in the situation and the measures taken to implement resolution 338 (1973).”
The Council had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for the period 6 December 2003 to 18 June 2003 (document S/2003/655), in which he recommends extension of the mandate for a further period of six months until 31 December.
According to the report, the ceasefire in the Israel-Syria sector was maintained during the period under review and the area of operation of UNDOF remained generally quiet, with two exceptions. On 8 January, there was a shooting incident in which one member of the Syrian security forces was shot and killed and another taken into custody by a patrol of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). The latter was released through he intervention of UNDOF. The overall calm in the Shab’a farms area was disrupted once.
Nevertheless, 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, the Secretary-General states.
The Secretary-General draws attention to the shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to some $19 million, representing money owed to Member States that contribute the troops for the Force. He appeals to Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.
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