The Security Council this afternoon renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for six months, until 31 May 1997. The Force was established in May 1974 to supervise the cease- fire called for by the Council and the agreement on disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces of 31 May 1974.
Through unanimous adoption of resolution 1081 (1996), the Council called upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution 338 (1973), which had called upon the parties to arrive at a comprehensive and durable peace. The Council requested the Secretary-General to report to it at the end of the new mandate period on measures taken to implement that text.
Also, through a statement read out by its President, Nugroho Wisnumurti, (Indonesia), the Council recalled that the report of the Secretary-General on UNDOF had stated that the situation in the Middle East would likely remain dangerous until a comprehensive settlement could be reached. That statement of the Secretary-General reflected the view of the Security Council.
The meeting was called to order at 12:10 p.m. and adjourned at 12:13 p.m.
The full text of the statement, to be issued as S/PRST/1996/45, reads as follows:
"As is known, the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (S/1996/959 and Corr.1) states, in paragraph 13: 'Despite the present quiet in the Israel-Syria sector, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached.' That statement of the Secretary-General reflects the view of the Security Council."
The full text of draft resolution 1081 (1996) reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force of 18 November 1996 (S/1996/959 and Corr.1),
"(a) To call upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;
"(b) To renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for another period of six months, that is, until 31 May 1997;
"(c) To request the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on the development in the situation and the measures taken to implement Security Council resolution 338 (1973)."
Report of the Secretary-General
When the Council met, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on UNDOF (document S/1996/959) covering the period from 18 May to 18 November 1996, in which he recommends extension of the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months, until 31 May 1997. The Secretary-General says that in the prevailing circumstances in the area, he considers UNDOF's presence to be essential. The Governments of Syria and Israel have both agreed to the proposed extension.
The UNDOF, which was established in May 1974 to supervise the cease-fire called for by the Security Council and the agreement on disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces of 31 May 1974, has continued to perform its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties, the report states. The situation in the sector had remained quiet with no serious incidents. Despite that, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached.
In his report,the Secretary-General expresses his hope that determined efforts will be made by all concerned to tackle the problem in all its aspects, to arrive at a just and durable peace settlement, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 338 (1973).
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6293 3715th Meeting (PM) 27 November 1996
During the period under consideration, UNDOF supervised the area of separation between the Syrian and Israeli forces by means of fixed positions and patrols, to ensure that no military forces were in it. The Force also carried out fortnightly inspections of armament and force levels in the areas of limitation. Liaison officers from the parties concerned accompanied the inspection teams. As in the past, both sides denied inspection teams access to some of their positions and imposed some restrictions on UNDOF's freedom of movement. The report states that there was a period of tension between Israel and Syria in September and October, amid public speculation about the possibility of armed conflict. Tension has since subsided, following assurances by both sides through the intermediary of other governments. During that period, the level of forces and armaments in the areas of limitation on both sides remained well below the ceiling established by the disengagement agreement of 1974. The UNDOF assisted the International Committee of the Red Cross with facilities for mail and the passage of persons through the area of separation. Within the means available, medical treatment was provided to the local population on request.
As of November 1996, UNDOF comprised 1,042 troops from Australia, Canada, Japan and Poland, as well as four United Nations observers detailed from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). In addition, UNDOF was assisted by the 37 UNTSO military observers of the Observer Group Golan. Major-General Johannes C. Kosters of the Netherlands continued as Force Commander.
The report draws attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to some $674.1 million. The Secretary-General appeals to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.
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