Amid Syria Tensions |

Netanyahu: UNDOF's Collapse Shows Israel Can't Rely on UN for Security in Future Palestinian Deal

Prime Minister Netanyahu tells cabinet that Austria's decision to pull its 380 troops from UNDOF - approximately 1/3 of the peacekeeping force on the Syrian border - proves any future agreement must be based on Israel's terms of security.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that the disintegration of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights proves that Israel cannot rely on any international body for protection in a future peace agreement with Palestinians.

The Security Council established the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights (UNDOF) in 1974, a year after the Yom Kippur War, with the purpose of maintaining the cease-fire on the Israeli-Syrian border.

UNDOF's presence in the area has all but collapsed now, after Austria's announcement Thursday that it would withdraw all of its peacekeepers from the monitoring force following clashes between Syrian rebels and government forces at the Quneitra border crossing.

Austrians account for some 380 of the 1,100-strong UN force, and their departure will deal a serious blow to the mission, affecting their operational capacity.

Netanyahu said Sunday that the quick crumbling of the body made it clear that Israel would need to set its own security terms when it comes to a future peace agreement and not rely on an international observer force.

"The disintegration of the UN force in the Golan makes trenchant the fact that Israel cannot lean on international forces for its security," Netanyahu said.

"I will discuss this with [U.S.] Secretary of State [John] Kerryand together we will try to promote the way to find an opening in negotiations with the Palestinians with the goal of achieving an agreement," the prime minister added. "This agreement will be based on a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish State and firm security arrangements that will be based on the IDF."

Netanyahu also said "Israel is not getting involved in the civil war in Syria, as long as the fire is not directed at us." He also referred to the stability of the government coalition. "The government must operate as a solid bloc," said Netanyahu. "Israel's citizens elected us to focus on big undertakings and not on petty politics, and so we will do."

Israeli cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said: "We are seeing now what the Austrian forces on the Golan Heights are worth. Israel cannot trust international forces, and sometimes, as it happens, their presence during crises is more burdensome than useful."

Netanyahu said he had spoken during the weekend with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Syria, but gave no details. Moscow is Assad's main big-power ally, whose advanced arms supplied to Damascus worry Israel.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said at a closed emergency session of the UN Security Council on Friday night that Israel had threatened to attack President Bashar Assad's forces in the area during the clashes at Quneitra.

A senior IDF official confirmed Saturday that Israel did send such a warning to the Syrian forces.

Prime Minister Netanyahu at cabinet meeting June 9, 2013.Credit: Marc Israel Sellem

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