OF UNEF II
Fighting in the Middle East broke out again on 6 October 1973, when Egyptian forces in the Suez Canal sector and, in a coordinated move, Syrian troops on the Golan Hights attacked Israeli positions. The Security Council met from 8 to 12 October to consider the conflict and the overall situation, but, because of the opposing positions of the major Powers, could not reach a decision. Meanwhile war raged on. By 21 October, the situation had become critical; an Israeli armoured column had crossed the Canal where it was engaging Egyptian forces, and the Egyptian Third Army on the east bank was about to be cut off. The Soviet Union and the United States jointly requested an urgent meeting of the Security Council. On 22 October, the Council, on a proposal submitted jointly by the two major Powers, adopted resolution 338 (1973) which called for a ceasefire and a start to implementing resolution 242 (1967). The ceasefire call was confirmed in resolution 339 (1973) of 23 October, and the Secretary-General was requested to dispatch United Nations observers immediately.
Fighting continued, however, and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt issued direct appeals to the Soviet Union and the United States, requesting them to send American and Soviet troops to the area to enforce the ceasefire. The United States Government was opposed to the request, but the Soviet Union agreed. The two major Powers, in disagreement after their joint ceasefire initiative, were suddenly on a collision course, each threatening military action.
At the request of Egypt, the Security Council was convened again on 24 October. The non-aligned members of the Council, in close cooperation with the Secretary-General, worked out a resolution calling for an increase in UNTSO observers in the area and the establishment of a new United Nations peacekeeping force, which became the second United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II). The establishment and dispatch of the new peacekeeping operation effectively brought the crisis to an end.
On 25 October 1973, on a proposal by Guinea, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Panama, Peru, the Sudan and Yugoslavia, the Security Council adopted resolution 340 (1973), by which it demanded that an immediate and complete ceasefire be observed and that the parties return to the positions occupied by them at 1650 hours GMT on 22 October 1973. The Council also requested the Secretary-General, as an immediate step, to increase the number of United Nations military observers on both sides, and decided to set up immediately under its authority a United Nations Emergency Force to be composed of personnel drawn from United Nations Member States except the permanent members of the Security Council. It requested the Secretary-General to report within 24 hours on the steps taken to that effect.
Immediately after the adoption of the resolution, the Secretary-General addressed a letter to the President of the Security Council, indicating that he would deliver the requested report within the time-limit set by the Council. In the meantime, as an urgent measure and in order that the Emergency Force might reach the area of conflict as soon as possible, he proposed to arrange for units of the Austrian, Finnish and Swedish contingents serving with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) to proceed immediately to Egypt. He also proposed to appoint Major-General (later Lieutenant-General) Ensio P. H. Siilasvuo (Finland), the Chief of Staff of UNTSO, as interim Commander of the new Force and to ask him to set up a provisional headquarters in Cairo with personnel from UNTSO.
The Secretary-General requested the Council President to let him know urgently whether the proposal was acceptable to the members of the Council, adding that the proposed steps would be without prejudice to the more detailed and comprehensive report on the Emergency Force which he would submit to the Council on the next day. The President, after informally consulting the members of the Council, conveyed the Council's agreement to the Secretary-General on the same evening.
The Secretary-General's report requested by the Council set forth proposals regarding the guidelines for the functioning of the Force as well as a plan of action for the initial stages of the operation.
The proposed principles and guidelines for the Emergency Force were as follows:
(a) Three essential conditions must be met for the Force to be effective. First, it must have at all times the full confidence and backing of the Security Council. Secondly, it must operate with the full cooperation of the parties concerned. Thirdly, it must be able to function as an integrated and efficient military unit.
(b) The Force would be under the command of the United Nations, vested in the Secretary-General, under the authority of the Security Council. The command in the field would be exercised by a Force Commander appointed by the Secretary-General with the Council's consent. The Commander would be responsible to the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General would keep the Security Council fully informed of developments relating to the functioning of the Force. All matters which could affect the nature or the continued effective functioning of the Force would be referred to the Council for its decision.
(c) The Force must enjoy the freedom of movement and communication and other facilities necessary for the performance of its tasks. The Force and its personnel should be granted all relevant privileges and immunities provided for by the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. The Force should operate at all times separately from the armed forces of the parties concerned. Consequently, separate quarters and, wherever desirable and feasible, buffer zones would have to be arranged with the cooperation of the parties. Appropriate agreements on the status of the Force would also have to be concluded with the parties.
(d) The Force would be composed of a number of contingents to be provided by selected countries, upon the request of the Secretary-General. The contingents would be selected in consultation with the Security Council and with the parties concerned, bearing in mind the accepted principle of equitable geographical representation.
(e) The Force would be provided with weapons of a defensive character only. It would not use force except in self-defence. Self-defence would include resistance to attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the Security Council's mandate. The Force would proceed on the assumption that the parties to the conflict would take all the necessary steps for compliance with the Council's decisions.
(f) In performing its functions, the Force would act with complete impartiality and would avoid actions which could prejudice the rights, claims or positions of the parties concerned.
(g) The costs of the Force would be considered as expenses of the Organization to be borne by the Members, as apportioned by the General Assembly.
In the same report, the Secretary-General set forth certain urgent steps to be taken. In order that UNEF II might fulfil the responsibilities entrusted to it, it was considered necessary that the Force should have a total strength in the order of 7,000. The Force would initially be stationed in the area for a period of six months, subject to extension.
The Secretary-General engaged in the necessary consultations with a number of Governments, in addition to Austria, Finland and Sweden, regarding provision of contingents of suitable size for the Force at the earliest possible time. In addition to his requests to countries to provide contingents for the Force, the Secretary-General proposed to seek logistic support from a number of other countries, which might include the permanent members of the Security Council.
This report was approved by the Security Council on 27 October by its resolution 341 (1973). In accordance with the Secretary-General's recommendations, the Council set up the new Force for an initial period of six months, subject to extension.
UNEF II had already begun its operations on the basis of interim arrangements approved by the Security Council. On the morning of 26 October, General Siilasvuo and his group of UNTSO military observers set up temporary headquarters in Cairo using UNTSO's liaison office. During the same afternoon, advance elements of Austrian, Finnish and Swedish troops arrived from Cyprus and were immediately deployed along the front line. They were joined a few days later by an Irish company. The four contingents were quickly reinforced, and their presence and activities effectively defused a highly explosive situation.
Having taken these emergency measures, the Secretary-General had now to secure other contingents and build up the Force to its authorized level of 7,000 all ranks. In accordance with the guidelines approved by the Security Council, the Force was to be composed of contingents from countries selected by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the parties and the Security Council, bearing in mind the principle of equitable geographical representation.
The question of the composition of the Force gave rise to some difficulties during the consultations with the Security Council. In view of the need to set up a working force without delay, the Secretary-General wanted to secure contingents from countries that could provide the required troops at short notice. In particular, he had planned to ask Canada to supply the logistics component, since it was, aside from the major Powers, one of the few countries which could readily do so. But the Soviet Union insisted that a Warsaw Pact country should be included in the new Force if a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member was. After a lengthy debate held in closed session, the Security Council decided that the Secretary-General should consult with Ghana (African regional group), Indonesia and Nepal (Asian regional group), Panama and Peru (Latin American regional group), Poland (Eastern European regional group) and Canada (Western European and other States group) – the two last-mentioned having particular responsibility for logistic support.
In accordance with this decision, the Secretary-General held urgent consultations with the various Governments concerned with a view to obtaining the required personnel and equipment and working out acceptable administrative and financial arrangements. As a result of these contacts, in addition to Austria, Finland, Ireland and Sweden, whose troops had already arrived, Canada, Ghana, Indonesia, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Poland and Senegal were asked to provide contingents.
The Secretary-General had planned to set a ceiling of 600 for each contingent. However, in view of the complexity of the logistical problems and the decision of the Security Council to divide responsibilities in this regard between Canada and Poland, whose respective military establishments were differently organized and had different equipment and weapons, the strength of the logistical support elements had to be considerably increased.
The strength of the Canadian and Polish logistics components and the division of responsibilities between them were the subject of lengthy negotiations between the military representatives of those two countries and experts from the Secretariat. After more than two weeks of such discussions, an understanding was reached. The logistics support system was to be composed of a Polish road transport unit including a maintenance element, and a Canadian service unit consisting of a supply company, a maintenance company, a movement control unit and a postal detachment. In addition, Canada would provide an aviation unit and Poland a medical unit subject to the availability of a suitable building. The Canadian contingent would have a total strength of about 1,000 and the Polish contingent about 800.
While these negotiations were going on, General Siilasvuo was pressing for the early arrival of the logistics units. He indicated that because of the difficulty of getting local supplies, it was important that the logistics facilities be set up before the arrival of additional contingents. In the light of this recommendation, it was decided that the Austrian, Finnish, Irish and Swedish units which had arrived in the area at the beginning of the operation should be brought up to battalion strength as soon as possible, and operate with vehicles, stores and equipment borrowed from UNFICYP and from UNTSO.
By mid-November, advance parties of the Canadian and Polish contingents had arrived in the area and they were soon followed by the main bodies of those contingents. By the end of November, the logistics components were well established and the other contingents of UNEF II began to arrive in the area at a steady rate. By 20 February 1974, the strength of UNEF II had reached the authorized level of 7,000 (actually, 6,973). It included contingents from 12 countries: Austria (604), Canada (1,097), Finland (637), Ghana (499), Indonesia (550), Ireland (271), Nepal (571), Panama (406), Peru (497), Poland (822), Senegal (399), Sweden (620).
From February until May 1974, the strength of UNEF II was slightly decreased (to 6,645), mainly because of some reduction of the Finnish, Peruvian and Swedish contingents. In May, the Irish contingent was withdrawn at the request of its Government. Following the adoption of Security Council resolution 350 (1974) of 31 May 1974 on the establishment of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), and the approval by the Council of interim arrangements proposed by the Secretary-General to give effect to that resolution, the Austrian and Peruvian contingents and elements of the Canadian and Polish logistics contingents (approximately 1,050 troops in all) were transferred from UNEF II to UNDOF in Syria. As a result, the total strength of UNEF II decreased to 5,079 in June 1974. It was brought up to 5,527 at the end of July with the arrival of additional Canadian and Polish personnel.
The Nepalese contingent was withdrawn beginning in August 1974 and the Panamanian contingent in November 1974. The total strength of UNEF II, with contingents from seven countries, was progressively reduced to 3,987 by October 1975.
On 17 October 1975, the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council that, owing to the more extensive responsibilities entrusted to UNEF II under an Agreement between Egypt and Israel signed at Geneva on 4 September 1975 and the large increase in the areas of operation, additional military personnel would be needed to enable the Force to execute its new functions adequately. He proposed accordingly to reinforce each non-logistic contingent by one company (an increase of some 750 all ranks) and the Polish and Canadian logistics contingents by 50 and 36 men, respectively. He also proposed to reinforce the air unit by additional aircraft and helicopters. In accordance with the Secretary-General's request, Finland, Ghana, Indonesia and Sweden each agreed to supply an additional rifle company while Canada and Poland provided additional personnel for logistic support. After consulting the Security Council in May 1976, the Secretary-General accepted the offer of the Government of Australia to supply four helicopters with their crews and support personnel (45 men) to UNEF II.
The Senegalese contingent was withdrawn in May and June 1976. In a report of 18 October 1976, the Secretary-General noted that in view of the satisfactory results in operational arrangements in the current circumstances, and in the interest of economy, there was for the time being no intention to provide for the replacement of the Senegalese contingent unless a change in the situation should make it necessary. Upon the withdrawal of the Senegalese contingent, the total strength of UNEF II was reduced to 4,174. It remained more or less at that level during the next three years. At the time of its withdrawal in July 1979, UNEF II had 4,031 personnel, and its various contingents were: Australia (46), Canada (844), Finland (522), Ghana (595), Indonesia (510), Poland (923), Sweden (591). Of this total, 99 all ranks were assigned to UNEF II headquarters. The international civilian supporting staff of that headquarters numbered 160. In addition to the above, UNEF II was assisted by 120 military observers from UNTSO.
The mandate of UNEF II which was originally approved for six months, until 24 April 1974, was subsequently renewed eight times. Each time, as the date of expiry of the mandate approached, the Secretary-General submitted a report to the Security Council on the activities of the Force during the period of the mandate. In each of those reports, the Secretary-General expressed the view that the continued presence of UNEF II in the area was essential, and he recommended, after consultations with the parties, that its mandate be extended for a further period. In each case, the Council took note of the Secretary-General's report and decided to extend the mandate of the Force accordingly. In October 1978, the mandate of UNEF II was extended a last time for nine months, until 24 July 1979 (resolution 438 (1978)).
The discussions and decisions of the Security Council on the extension of the mandate naturally reflected the situation on the ground and the status of the negotiations undertaken for the disengagement of the forces in the area. Following the conclusion of the first disengagement agreement, in January 1974, both sides readily agreed to have the mandate extended for a further period of six months beyond 24 April 1974. But in April and July 1975, when negotiations aimed at the second disengagement of forces were deadlocked, Egypt declined to extend the mandate of the Force for more than three months and, in fact, consented to the extension in July 1975 only after a special appeal by the Security Council. In contrast, when the September 1975 disengagement agreement was finally concluded, both parties wanted the period of extension to be expanded to one year, and the Security Council so agreed. In October 1978, the Soviet Union, which was opposed to the Camp David accords concluded earlier that year, opposed a further extension for one year, and the Security Council finally settled for an extension period of nine months. In July 1979, after the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, which had entered into force on 25 April 1979, the Council was unable to extend the mandate of UNEF II and decided to let it lapse.
In this connection, in his report to the Security Council of 19 July 1979, the Secretary-General noted that the original context in which UNEF II had been created and in which it had previously functioned had basically changed during the past nine months. While the Governments of Egypt and Israel had both expressed themselves in favour of an extension of the mandate of UNEF II, the Soviet Union had expressed opposition to such a course. In this regard, the Secretary-General recalled that, according to the guidelines approved by the Security Council in October 1973, all matters which might affect the nature or the continued effective functioning of the Force would be referred to the Council for its decision. The Secretary-General added that whatever decisions the Council might reach, he would be ready to make the necessary arrangements. The Security Council did not extend the mandate of UNEF II, which lapsed on 24 July 1979.
General Siilasvuo, who had commanded UNEF II on an interim basis during its initial period, was appointed UNEF Commander on 12 November 1973 by the Secretary-General, with the consent of the Security Council. In August 1975, he was assigned to the new post of Chief Coordinator of the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in the Middle East and was replaced as UNEF Commander by Major-General (later Lieutenant-General) Bengt Liljestrand (Sweden), who held the post until 1 December 1976. Major-General Rais Abin (Indonesia), who became Acting Force Commander on that date, was appointed UNEF Commander on 1 January 1977 and held the post until the withdrawal of the Force in 1979.
In accordance with established practice, the United Nations sought to work out an agreement on the status of the Force with Egypt as the host country and also with Israel as the other party concerned. The Office of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat engaged in negotiations to this end with both countries' Permanent Missions to the United Nations. While no special agreement could be drawn up, it was agreed that as a practical arrangement the parties would be guided by the provision of the status of the Force agreement for UNEF I as well as by the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
With this understanding, the Force functioned smoothly and effectively. There were, of course, a number of organizational, operational and administrative problems. One of the main difficulties concerned the question of freedom of movement. The Israeli Government had opposed the inclusion in UNEF II of contingents from Ghana, Indonesia, Poland and Senegal on the grounds that these countries had no diplomatic relations with Israel, and it refused to extend to the personnel of their contingents freedom of movement in the areas it controlled.
The Secretary-General strongly protested against these restrictions for practical reasons and as a matter of principle. He took the position that UNEF II must function as an integrated and efficient military unit and that no differentiation should be made regarding the United Nations status of the various contingents. But despite his efforts and those of the Force Commander, the Israeli authorities maintained the restrictions, and the contingents affected had to be deployed within the United Nations buffer zones or in the Egyptian-controlled areas. The restrictions on the freedom of movement were also applied to Soviet observers attached to UNEF II.
The terms of reference of UNEF II were to supervise the implementation of Security Council resolution 340 (1973), which demanded that an immediate and complete ceasefire be observed and that the parties return to the positions they had occupied at 1650 hours GMT on 22 October 1973. The Force would use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of the fighting, and in the fulfilment of its tasks it would have the cooperation of the military observers of UNTSO. UNEF II was also to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its humanitarian endeavours in the area.
These terms of reference, which were approved by the Security Council on 27 October, remained unchanged during UNEF's entire mandate, but within this general framework the activities of the Force varied considerably over the years in the light of prevailing circumstances and of the agreements reached between the parties.
In the light of changing developments, the activities of UNEF II may be divided into four main phases.
First phase: October 1973–January 1974
Following the establishment of UNEF II, its immediate objective was to stop the fighting and prevent all movement forward of the troops on both sides. Urgent measures also had to be taken to provide Suez city and the Egyptian Third Army trapped on the east bank of the Canal with non-military supplies.
Troops from Austria, Finland, Sweden and, later, Ireland were dispatched to the front line as soon as they arrived. They interposed themselves whenever possible between the forward positions of the opposing forces. Observation posts and checkpoints were set up and patrols undertaken, with the assistance of UNTSO observers, in sensitive areas. These activities were carried out in close liaison with the parties concerned. With these measures, the situation was stabilized, the ceasefire was generally observed, and there were only a few incidents, which were resolved with the assistance of UNEF II.
A meeting between high-level military representatives of Egypt and Israel took place in the presence of UNEF representatives on 27 October 1973 at kilometre-marker 109 on the Cairo-Suez road to discuss the observance of the ceasefire demanded by the Security Council, as well as various humanitarian questions. At this meeting, preliminary arrangements were also agreed upon for the dispatch of non-military supplies to the town of Suez and the Egyptian Third Army. In accordance with these arrangements, convoys of lorries driven by UNEF II personnel were organized under the supervision of the Force and ICRC to bring supplies of a non-military nature through Israeli-held territory to Suez, and then to the Egyptian Third Army across the Canal.
These priority tasks having been met, UNEF II turned to the Security Council's demand for the return of the forces of both parties to the positions they had occupied on 22 October 1973. More meetings were held at kilometre-marker 109 to discuss this matter, together with possible mutual disengagement and the establishment of buffer zones to be manned by UNEF II.
In the meantime, the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Henry A. Kissinger, during visits to Egypt and Israel, succeeded in working out a preliminary agreement between the two countries for the implementation of Council resolutions 338 (1973) and 339 (1973). He transmitted it on 9 November to Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, who immediately instructed General Siilasvuo to take the necessary measures and to make available his good offices, as appropriate, for carrying out the terms of that agreement. On 11 November, at kilometre-marker 101 on the Cairo-Suez road, the new site for meetings, the agreement was signed by Major-General Mohamed El-Gamasy for Egypt and by Major-General Aharon Yaariv for Israel. It was also signed by General Siilasvuo on behalf of the United Nations.
The agreement, which was to enter into force immediately, contained the following six points:
(1) Egypt and Israel agreed to observe scrupulously the ceasefire called for by the Security Council; (2) Both sides agreed that discussions between them would begin immediately to settle the question of the return to the 22 October positions; (3) The town of Suez would receive daily supplies of food, water and medicine and all wounded civilians in the town would be evacuated; (4) There would be no impediment to the movement of non-military supplies to the east bank; (5) The Israeli checkpoints on the Cairo-Suez road would be replaced by United Nations checkpoints; and (6) As soon as the United Nations checkpoints were established on that road, there would be an exchange of all prisoners of war, including wounded.
Immediately after the signing of this agreement, the parties started discussions under the auspices of General Siilasvuo on the modalities of its implementation. These discussions continued sporadically until January 1974.
Except for the provision on the return to the 22 October positions, the agreement was implemented without much difficulty. On the morning of 15 November, the Israeli personnel at the checkpoints on the Cairo-Suez road were replaced by UNEF II personnel. Convoys of non-military supplies plied smoothly to and from Suez. The exchange of prisoners of war took place in mid-November with aircraft made available without cost by the Swiss Government to ICRC.
But the most important clause, which concerned the return to the 22 October positions and the separation of the opposing forces under United Nations auspices, remained unresolved despite General Siilasvuo's efforts. On 29 November, Egypt broke off the negotiations, a decision which inevitably created a heightening of tension in the area. However, thanks to the presence of UNEF II, the ceasefire continued to hold.
Second phase: January 1974–October 1975
While the negotiations at kilometre-marker 101 for the return to the 22 October positions were dragging on, the United States and the Soviet Union initiated a joint effort to promote the implementation of Security Council resolution 338 (1973), which called for negotiations to start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East. This effort resulted in the convening of the Peace Conference on the Middle East at Geneva on 21 December 1973 under the auspices of the United Nations and the co-chairmanship of the two Powers. The Secretary-General was asked to serve as the convener of the Conference and to preside at the opening phase which would be held at the Foreign Minister level. The Governments of Egypt, Israel and Jordan accepted to attend, but Syria refused and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was not invited.
The Conference, which discussed the disengagement of forces in the Egypt-Israel sector, as well as a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East problem, was inconclusive and adjourned on 22 December 1973 after three meetings. Before adjourning, it decided to continue to work through the setting up of a Military Working Group, which would start discussing forthwith the question of disengagement of forces. The Working Group was composed of the military representatives of Egypt and Israel and the Commander of UNEF II as Chairman.
During the first half of January 1974, the United States Secretary of State undertook a new mediation effort. In negotiating separately with the Governments of Egypt and Israel, in what was known as his “shuttle diplomacy”, he worked out an agreement on the disengagement and separation of their military forces. This agreement was signed on 18 January 1974 by the military representatives of Egypt and Israel, and by General Siilasvuo as witness, within the framework of the Military Working Group of the Geneva Peace Conference at a meeting held at kilometre-marker 101 on the Cairo-Suez road. The agreement provided for the deployment of Egyptian forces on the eastern side of the Canal, west of a line designated on the map annexed to the agreement (the line ran parallel to the Canal, about 10 kilometres east of it), the deployment of Israeli forces east of another line, the establishment of a zone of disengagement manned by UNEF II, and areas of limited forces and armament on both sides of that zone.
In subsequent meetings held at kilometre-marker 101 under the chairmanship of General Siilasvuo, the military representatives of Egypt and Israel worked out a detailed procedure for the implementation of the agreement.
In accordance with this procedure, the disengagement operation began on 25 January. The operation proceeded by phases. At each phase, Israeli forces withdrew from a designated area after handing it over to UNEF II, and UNEF II held that area for a few hours before turning it over to the Egyptian forces. During the entire disengagement process, UNEF II interposed between the forces of the two sides by establishing temporary buffer zones. UNEF II was also responsible for the survey and marking of the lines of disengagement, which was carried out by UNTSO military observers under UNEF II supervision, with the assistance of Egyptian and Israeli army surveyors for their respective sides. The whole operation was carried out smoothly according to plan and was completed by 4 March 1974.
After the completion of the operation, most non-logistic contingents were deployed in or near the newly established zone of disengagement. By mid-March, UNEF II had a total strength of 6,814 all ranks. The headquarters of UNEF II was moved to Ismailia in August 1974.
As a result of this disengagement, the situation in the Egypt-Israel sector became much more stable. The main task of UNEF II was the manning and control of the zone of disengagement and, to do this, it established static checkpoints and observation posts and conducted mobile patrols. It also carried out, with the assistance of UNTSO observers, weekly and later bi-weekly inspections of the areas of limited forces and armament (30 kilometre zone), as well as inspections of other areas agreed by the parties. The Force Commander continued the practice of separate meetings with the military authorities of Egypt and Israel concerning the implementation of the Force's terms of reference and the inspections carried out by UNEF II, and he continued to lend his assistance and good offices in cases where one of the parties raised questions concerning the observance of the agreed limitations of forces and armament.
In addition, UNEF II continued to cooperate with ICRC on humanitarian matters. It played an important part in assisting in exchanges of prisoners of war and the transfer of civilians from one side to the other. UNEF II also undertook an operation, which was completed in July 1974, for the search for the remains of soldiers killed during the October 1973 war.
In view of the quiet that prevailed in the area, it was possible to reduce gradually the strength of UNEF II. The Irish Government decided to withdraw its troops in May 1974. In June, following the establishment of UNDOF on the Golan Heights, the Security Council decided, upon the recommendation of the Secretary-General, to transfer the Austrian and Peruvian contingents and elements of the Canadian and Polish logistics components to the that new mission. The Nepalese contingent, which had been made available to the United Nations for six months only, was repatriated in August and September 1974. Finally, the Panamanian contingent was withdrawn in November 1974. As a result of these and later developments, the total strength of UNEF II decreased to 5,079 in June 1974, 4,029 in April 1975 and 3,987 in October 1975.
Third phase: November 1975–May 1979
In September 1975, the United States Secretary of State, through further indirect negotiations, succeeded in obtaining the agreement of Egypt and Israel for a second disengagement of their forces in the Sinai. The new agreement provided for the redeployment of Israeli forces east of lines designated in a map annexed to the agreement, the redeployment of the Egyptian forces westwards and the establishment of buffer zones controlled by UNEF II. It also provided that there would be no military forces in the southern areas of Ras Sudr and Abu Rudais. On both sides of the buffer zones, two areas of limited forces and armament were to be set up where the number of military personnel should be limited to 8,000 and the armament to 75 tanks and 72 artillery pieces, including heavy mortars.
Finally, the agreement set up a joint commission, under the aegis of the United Nations Chief Coordinator of the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in the Middle East, to consider any problems arising from the agreement and to assist UNEF II in the execution of its mandate. Attached to the agreement was a United States plan to establish an early warning system in the area of the Giddi and Mitla Passes, consisting of three watch stations set up by the United States and of two surveillance stations, one operated by Egyptian personnel and the other by Israeli personnel.
The Secretary-General submitted reports to the Security Council on this matter in September 1975. He advised the Council that the new agreement between Egypt and Israel had been initialled by the parties on 1 September and would be signed by them at Geneva on 4 September. Following the signing, the representatives of Egypt and Israel were, within five days, to begin preparation of a detailed protocol for the implementation of the basic agreement in the Military Working Group of the Geneva Peace Conference on the Middle East. In accordance with previous practice, the Secretary-General instructed General Siilasvuo, the Chief Coordinator, who had presided at the previous meetings of the Military Working Group, to proceed to Geneva so as to be available in the same capacity for the forthcoming meetings of the Working Group.
The Working Group, meeting under the chairmanship of General Siilasvuo, reached agreement on the protocol of the agreement, which was signed on 22 September by the representatives of the two parties and by General Siilasvuo as witness. The protocol set out a detailed procedure for the implementation of the agreement.
The responsibilities entrusted to UNEF II under the agreement of 4 September and its protocol were much more extensive than those it had had previously, and its area of operations was much larger. The Force's first task was to mark on the ground the new lines of disengagement. To carry out this work, a group of surveyors was supplied by Sweden, at the request of the Secretary-General. Work began in October 1975 and was completed in January 1976, in accordance with the timetable set out in the protocol.
In November 1975, UNEF II began its assistance to the parties for the redeployment of their forces. The first phase of the redeployment took place in the southern area and was completed on 1 December 1975. During that period, UNEF II, through the Chief Coordinator, supervised the transfer of the oilfields and installations in the area. The second phase of the redeployment, which took place in the northern area, began on 12 January 1976 and was completed on 22 February. The Force monitored the redeployment of the forces of the two parties by providing buffer times for the transfer of evacuated areas to Egyptian control, occupying temporary buffer zones and manning temporary observation posts. The Force acted as a secure channel of communication and contact between the parties throughout the redeployment process.
After the completion of the redeployment operation, UNEF II carried out the long-term functions specified in the protocol. In the southern area, its task was to assure that no military or paramilitary forces of any kind, military fortifications or military installations were in the area. To perform that task, it established checkpoints and observation posts in accordance with the protocol and conducted patrols throughout the area, including air patrols. It also ensured the control of buffer zones in the southern area and, to this effect, it maintained permanent checkpoints along the buffer-zone lines. It also supervised the use of common road sections by the parties in accordance with arrangements agreed to by them and it provided escorts in those sections when necessary.
The functions of UNEF II in the buffer zone in the northern area were carried out by means of a system of checkpoints, observation posts and patrols by land. In the early-warning-system area, which was located in the buffer zone, UNEF II provided escorts, as required, to and from the United States watch stations and the Egyptian and Israeli surveillance stations. The Force was also entrusted with the task of ensuring the maintenance of the agreed limitations of forces and armament within the areas specified in the agreement and, to this effect, it conducted bi-weekly inspections. Those inspections were carried out by UNTSO military observers under UNEF supervision, accompanied by liaison officers of the respective parties.
The joint commission established by the disengagement agreement met in the buffer zone under the chairmanship of the United Nations Chief Coordinator as occasion required. The Force received a number of complaints from both parties alleging violations by the other side. Those complaints were taken up with the party concerned by the Force Commander or the Chief Coordinator and, in some instances, were referred to the joint commission.
The Force maintained close contact with representatives of ICRC in its humanitarian endeavours and extended its assistance in providing facilities for family reunions and student exchanges, which took place at an agreed site in the buffer zone.
All these tasks were carried out efficiently. There were few incidents and problems and, whenever they occurred, they were resolved without difficulty with the cooperation of the parties concerned.
Fourth phase: May–July 1979
The peace treaty concluded in March 1979 between Egypt and Israel as a result of negotiations conducted under the auspices of the United States, and which entered into force on 25 April, had a direct bearing on the termination of UNEF II and affected its activities during the final period.
The treaty provided that, upon completion of a phased Israeli withdrawal over three years, security arrangements on both sides of the Egyptian-Israeli border would be made with the assistance of United Nations forces and observers. Article VI stipulated that “the parties will request the United Nations to provide forces and observers to supervise the implementation of the security arrangements”. The United Nations forces and observers would have been asked to perform a variety of duties, including the operation of checkpoints, reconnaissance patrols and observation posts along the boundaries of and within the demilitarized zone, and ensuring freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran. United Nations forces would also have been stationed in certain areas adjoining the demilitarized zone on the Egyptian side, and United Nations observers would have patrolled a specified area on the Israeli side of the international boundary. In an annex to the treaty, the United States undertook to organize a multinational force of equivalent strength if the United Nations were unable to monitor the forces as envisaged by the treaty.
The intention of the parties was to have UNEF II perform these tasks. However, there was strong opposition to the treaty from the PLO and many Arab States, and opposition by the Soviet Union in the Security Council. As previously stated, the Security Council decided to allow the mandate of the Force to lapse on 24 July 1979.
On 25 May 1979, in pursuance of the relevant provisions of the peace treaty, the Israeli forces withdrew from the northern Sinai to the east of El Arish and the Egyptians took over control of that area. UNEF II was not involved in this move except by permitting access of Egyptian personnel to the buffer zone and the areas of limited forces and armament and by providing escorts to the parties within these areas as the Israeli withdrawal was being carried out. During this process, UNEF II withdrew from the northern part of the buffer zone, which was handed over to the Egyptian authorities. Except in areas of the Sinai controlled by Egyptian forces, UNEF II continued to function as previously. In particular, it continued to provide a physical separation of the areas of limited forces and armament. It also provided escorts to authorized non-United Nations visitors and to personnel of the parties travelling to and from the early-warning-system stations.
After the mandate of UNEF II lapsed in July 1979, the various contingents were rapidly repatriated, except for a Swedish guard unit and limited groups of the Canadian and Polish logistics contingents which remained in the area to assist in the winding up of the Force.
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