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Ban recommends six-month extension of UN force in Golan Heights

17 June 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended that the mandate of the United Nations force observing the ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights be extended until 31 December, in a new report released today.

Mr. Ban notes that the situation in the Israel-Syria sector has remained generally quiet, but adds that “the situation in the Middle East is tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached.”

Given the ongoing tension in the region, the continued presence of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) is “essential,” he writes.

Expressing his hope that determined efforts will be made by all concerned “to tackle the problem in all its aspects, with a view to arriving at a just and durable peace settlement,” the Secretary-General welcomes the news that Syria and Israel have started indirect peace talks, under the auspices of Turkey.

In recommending UNDOF’s extension, Mr. Ban also draws attention to the shortfall in the Force’s funding, noting that unpaid assessments amount to nearly $15 million. “The outstanding contributions impede the ability of the Secretariat to reimburse Member States contributing troops to the Force,” he says.

UNDOF was established in May 1974 to supervise the disengagement accord between Syrian and Israeli forces after their 1973 war.



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