Israeli official: UN peacekeepers on Golan slow to move back to Syria side

There are two key reasons Israel wants the UN peacekeepers to get back on the Syrian side of the border.

By
March 28, 2018 20:02
1 minute read.
UN peacekeepers

U.N. peacekeepers patrol Mount Bental, an observation post in the Golan Heights near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria October 23, 2017. . (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

The Security Council on Tuesday called for the UN Disengagement Observer Force to redeploy along the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire lines on the Golan Heights, a redeployment Israel maintains is too slow in coming.

Following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, and after a contingent of 22 peacekeepers from the Philippines were kidnapped and held for three days by a group affiliated with Islamic State in 2013, much of the 1,000-strong UNDOF contingent moved to the Israeli side of the border.

Earlier this month Israel sent a request to UNDOF to go back to the other side of the border. Although UNDOF has agreed in principle, said one Israeli diplomatic official, it is taking their time, and the redeployment is “very slow.”

UNDOF has been monitoring an 80-kilometer-long buffer zone between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights since 1974, when the zone was created on the Syrian side of the 1967 armistice line as part of the US-brokered Israel-Syria disengagement agreement following the Yom Kippur War.

Israel, according to the official, wants UNDOF to return to its positions on the Syrian side of the border for a variety of reasons. First of all, he said, “that is where they belong, that is their mandate.”


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IDF soldiers in the Golan Heights transfer injured Syrians from Syria into Israel for medical treatment on April 6, 2017 (IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

And secondly, he said, when the forces are on the Israeli side of the border, they are looking and reporting on what Israel is doing, rather than watching and reporting what is happening on the other side.

The official said that while the Security Council recommended the forces go back to their original positions on the other side of the border, “there is no hard timetable.”

The following countries contribute troops to the UN peacekeeping force: Bhutan, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Finland, India, Ireland, Nepal and the Netherlands.


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