Fighting in the Middle East broke out again on 6 October 1973, when Egypt in the Suez Canal sector and Syria in the Golan Heights attacked Israeli positions. The Security Council, by resolution 338 of 22 October 1973, called on the parties to cease fire and to start immediately thereafter full implementation of resolution 242. It also decided that, concurrently with the ceasefire, negotiations should start between the parties, under appropriate auspices, to establish a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. As fighting continued, the Council demanded, by resolution 340 of 25 October, an immediate and complete ceasefire and the return of the parties to the positions they had occupied on 22 October. It decided to set up immediately a new United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II). The Force, established with a strength of up to 7,000 men for an initial period of six months, was stationed in the Egyptian-Israel sector. The dispatch of the new peacekeeping operation effectively brought the crisis to an end.
In December 1973, a Peace Conference on the Middle East was convened at Geneva under United Nations auspices and the co-chairmanship of the Soviet Union and the United States, with Egypt, Israel and Jordan attending. Before adjourning, the Conference decided to continue its work through a Military Working Group which would discuss the disengagement of forces. Those discussions led to an agreement between Egypt and Israel on the disengagement of their forces. Signed in January 1974 at a meeting of the Military Working Group chaired by the UNEF II Commander, the agreement covered a partial Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory in the Sinai, the establishment of a buffer zone controlled by UNEF II and areas of limited forces and armaments on both sides of the zone. The disengagement was completed in March 1974 with UNEF II assistance.
Israel and Egypt signed a second disengagement agreement in September 1975, providing for further Israeli withdrawals. These were completed in February 1976, and a larger new buffer zone was set up under UNEF II control.
UNEF’s mandate was renewed periodically by the Security Council until July 1979, when it was not extended. Military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) remained stationed in Egypt.
© United Nations