Adoption of Golan Heights Resolution
Tomorrow morning (27 June) the Council will adopt a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for six months. (UNDOF was established in May 1974 to monitor the ceasefire between Israel and Syria.) The draft resolution is a joint US-Russian text and was circulated to Council members last week under silence procedure and was put in blue yesterday.
It seems the current draft resolution is essentially a technical one. However, it concurs with the findings of the most recent UNDOF report by the Secretary-General (S/2012/403) that the Syrian crisis has impacted the mission’s ability to operate. Last Thursday (21 June), Council members discussed the report in consultations. They seem to have taken note of several incidents detailed in the report that are highlighted in the preambular paragraphs of the draft resolution, including: the 26 February incident where Israeli soldiers fired shots into the area of limitation; the 1 March incident where Syrian armed forces entered the area of separation (where neither Israeli or Syrian military presence is allowed); and the 12 March incident where a Syrian soldier fired shots at UN personnel in the Syrian area of limitation.
Some members felt there should have been a more explicit reference to the Israeli Defence Forces in the preambular paragraph regarding the 26 February incident. However, silence was not broken over this issue so as to not jeopardise the compromise between the US and Russia on the draft.
Although for many years the UNDOF mandate was renewed without change, the conflict in Syria added a new dimension. The US in June 2011 wanted extensive references to the political situation in Syria, while Russia preferred to keep the simple technical language used in past resolutions renewing UNDOF. This led to two draft resolutions being circulated – the first by the US and a later one by Russia. Since then an interesting working method has evolved where although the US has the lead on UNDOF it works with Russia on the initial draft. This is the second joint draft with Russia and appears to be a way of avoiding a repeat of the June 2011 scenario.
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