WASHINGTON – The Security Council on Thursday extended the mandate of the United Nations force monitoring the ceasefire in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria for another six months.
According to a UN press release, the resolution extending UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mandate was adopted unanimously. The statement said the UN Security Council was "deeply concern that recent events have put the long-held ceasefire in jeopardy."
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UNDOF forces were first deployed in the area in 1974. Their mandate has been extended through to December 31 this year.
The UN's resolution calls on both Israel and Syria to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any breaches of the ceasefire or the area of separation.
The statement noted that a recent review of UNDOF operations by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, found the event of May 15 – the Palestinian "Nakba Day" – when demonstrations on the border and the attempted rushing of the border fence resulted in civilian fatalities, were extremely worrying.
Ban expressed a similar sentiment regarding the events of June 5. Council members echoed the UN chief's concerns and urged all parties to cooperate fully with the operations of UNDOF.
"Israel deeply appreciates the work of UNDOF," Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council.
"The international community must continue to support its mission, which remains an important component of stability in our region. As we witness unprecedented turmoil in the Middle East, the need for all parties to fully respect the disengagement line between Israel and Syria has never been clearer.
"The Syrian-Israel Disengagement line has been quiet for decades. The Syrian regime cannot be allowed to disturb this quiet, just because it doesn’t want the cries of its own slaughtered citizens to be heard," he said.
During the hearing, the United States, Britain, Germany and France denounced the violence in Syria, while Russia and China opposed an official censure, saying that the unrest sweeping Syria was an internal matter.
US Ambassador Susan Rice said that Washington was concerned by the reports that Syria had a hand in organizing the "Nakba" riots in an attempt to distract the West from the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
The French ambassador echoed the sentiment and denounced Damascus' brutality on its own civilians.
Meanwhile, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja'afari dismissed the allegations, saying the root of the problem was Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights. "The UN Security Council's real job is to end Israel's illegal occupation in the Golan.
"We know there is an attempt to involve the Security Council in internal affairs so to pressure Syria," he said.
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