On 6 October 1973, war erupted in the Middle East between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Suez Canal area and the Sinai, and between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. On 24 October, as fighting between Egypt and Israel reached a critical stage, the Security Council decided to set up a second United Nations Emergency Force II (UNEF II)
. The Force was immediately moved into place between the Israeli and Egyptian armies in the Suez Canal area, and its arrival effectively stabilized the situation. However, no new peacekeeping operation at that time was established on the Syrian front.
In the Israel-Syria sector tension remained high, and from March 1974 the situation became increasingly unstable. Against this background, the United States undertook a diplomatic initiative, which resulted in the conclusion of an Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces [S/11302/Add.1, annexes I and II]
. The Agreement provided for an area of separation and for two equal zones of limited forces and armaments on both sides of the area, and called for the establishment of a United Nations observer force to supervise its implementation.
The Agreement was signed on 31 May 1974 and, on the same day, the Security Council adopted resolution 350 (1974)
by which it set up the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established by Security Council resolution 350 (1974)
of 31 May 1974 to:
Maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria;
Supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces; and
Supervise the areas of separation and limitation, as provided in the May 1974 Agreement on Disengagement.
Since then, the mandate of UNDOF has been renewed every six months. Over the years, while recommending the next extension of the mandate, the Secretary-General has repeatedly observed that, despite the present quiet in the Israeli-Syrian sector, the situation in the Middle East was very tense and was likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem was reached. In the prevailing circumstances, he considered the continued presence of UNDOF in the area to be essential.