UN extends force along Israeli-Syrian border

UN extends force along I

The UN Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to extend the more than 1,000-strong UN peacekeeping force which has monitored the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights since 1974. The resolution adopted by the council continues the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force until June 30, 2010. The force was established after the 1973 Yom Kippur war to monitor the separation of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Syria wants the land returned in exchange for peace. A year of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria ended in January. Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a newspaper interview in March that the talks failed because Israel would not make a clear commitment to return all of the Golan up to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel's main water source. Syria has said it is willing to resume the Turkish-mediated talks if they focus on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is not willing to cede the territory Syria wants. An Israeli-Syrian peace agreement would be one strand of an overall Mideast settlement involving the Palestinians, Lebanon, and the broader Arab world.