Future of UN force on Golan in doubt as Syria crumbles


Members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) stand on an armored vehicle near an IDF soldiers in the Israeli Golan Heights near the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria, on August 30, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
Members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) stand on an armored vehicle near an IDF soldiers in the Israeli Golan Heights near the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria, on August 30, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
All 1,200 UNDOF peacekeepers now crowded into base on Israeli side of border; ‘their mandate is just not relevant anymore,’ ex-liaison officer says.

By Aron HellerTHE TIMES OF ISRAEL

For four decades, a multinational United Nations mission has quietly monitored the sleepy Golan Heights — providing a symbol of stability between bitter enemies as it enforced a truce between Israel and Syria.

But as Syria has plunged into civil war and the peacekeepers themselves have become targets of al-Qaeda-linked rebels, the UN observer force has begun to fall apart, leaving its future — and the prospects for ever establishing peace in this rugged area of the Middle East — in doubt.

Since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war, a withdrawal from the strategic plateau was seen as the key to any peace agreement. But as Syria continues to disintegrate, the odds of Israel giving up the Golan — never a popular prospect among Israelis — appear to be dimming by the day.

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