23 December 2003
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF FORCE SUPERVISING ISRAEL-SYRIA CEASEFIRE UNTIL 30 JUNE 2004
NEW YORK, 22 December (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this afternoon renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which was to expire on 31 December at midnight, for a further six months, until 30 June 2004. The Force has supervised the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974.
Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1520 (2003), the Council also called upon the parties concerned to immediately implement its resolution 338 of October 1973.
Among the provisions of that 1973 text, the Council decided that negotiations should start between the parties aimed at establishing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Also by that resolution, the Council called upon the parties to begin implementation of resolution 242 of November 1967, which affirmed that fulfilment of Charter principles included withdrawal of Israel’s armed forces from territories occupied in the conflict and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area.
In an accompanying presidential statement (document S/PRST/2003/29), Council President Stefan Tafrov (Bulgaria) said that the Council’s view had been reflected by Secretary-General Annan’s statement in his latest report on the Force dated 9 December (document S/2003/1144), in which Mr. Annan stated that “the situation in the Middle East is very tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached”.
The full text of resolution 1520 (2003) reads, as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force of 9 December 2003 (S/2003/1148), and also reaffirming its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,
“1. Calls upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;
“2. Decides to renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for a period of six months, that is, until 30 June 2004;
“3. Requests the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on the developments in the situation and the measures taken to implement resolution 338 (1973).”
The Council had before it the Secretary-General’s report on UNDOF for the period 19 June to 9 December (document S/2003/1148), in which he recommends extension of the mandate, which was to expire on 31 December at midnight, for a further period of six months until 30 June 2004.
According to the report, the situation in the UNDOF area of operation has remained generally quiet, although tension in the Israel-Syria sector has been high since the Israeli air strike of 5 October, which the Secretary-General strongly deplores. He urged both parties to respect international law and to exercise restraint.
The situation in the Middle East is very tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached, the Secretary-General states.
The Secretary-General draws attention to the shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to some $26 million, representing money owed to Member States that contribute the troops for the Force. He appeals to Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.
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