Renewal of the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights
Tomorrow (18 December), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights for six months. Russia and the US jointly authored the draft resolution which was circulated on Thursday (12 December). Silence procedure ended this morning at 9am with no Council member requesting any change to the text, which will be put in blue later today.
The draft resolution reflects the deteriorating situation on the ground as a result of the spillover of the Syrian conflict. This has adversely affected UNDOF and its area of operations and potentially jeopardised the integrity of the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria. The Secretary-General’s most recent UNDOF report (S/2013/716) detailed multiple violations of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria. The preambular paragraphs of the draft resolution draw attention to this and condemn several incidents threatening the safety and security of UNDOF personnel. It also notes the increased use of improvised explosive devices by the opposition in the UNDOF area of operation and underscores that the theft or destruction of UN weapons, ammunition, vehicles or other assets is unacceptable. There was little substantive change to the operational paragraphs of the draft resolution.
Finally, the draft again requests the Secretary-General to report every 90 days (versus every six months which had been the reporting period until resolution 2084 was adopted on 19 December 2012), signaling that Council members will continue to pay regular attention to the situation.
Though in recent years the US has been the penholder on the Golan Heights, this will be the fourth resolution renewing UNDOF that was drafted jointly by the US and Russia, demonstrating consensus on an issue that is affected by the highly divisive conflict in Syria. Council members prefer to keep the Syrian conflict and the Golan Heights as discrete issues.