Israel Sees No Need to Change UN's Mandate on Golan

Despite the increasing tensions with Syria, Israel will not ask to widen the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan, which is due to be extended at the end of the month, government sources in Jerusalem said.

The sources said that UNDOF's mandate is extended every six months automatically and there are no grounds to change it.

Israel will not warn the international community of Syria's military strengthening and its tightening coordination with Iran and Hezbollah ahead of the Security Council's debate on extending UNDOF's mandate. Nor will Israel ask the UN to reinforce UNDOF to ensure that the status quo is maintained.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on June 17, but will not raise Israel's concerns about a Syrian attack in the Golan, the sources said.

They said Israel is not making a special diplomatic effort to avoid confrontation with Syria, beyond conveying messages through several channels warning of a Syrian "miscalculation" that could lead to escalation.

Foreign Ministry officials reported at the cabinet session Wednesday that there is no international pressure on Israel to reach a peace agreement with Syria.

UNDOF consists of some 1,200 troops from Austria, Canada, India, Poland, Slovakia and Japan between the IDF and Syrian army along the cease-fire line in the Golan. It supervises the implementation of the disengagement agreement between Israeli and Syrian forces from 1974.

The Security Council's statement ahead of the debate on UNDOF said the force's mandate would be extended as usual and no fundamental debate was expected on the issue.

The UN Secretary-General's periodic report on UNDOF's activity is expected to be released in the next few days. The IDF has conveyed a message to Syria through UNDOF commander Wolfgang Jilke (Austria) to the effect that Israel does not intend to attack Syria.

The disengagement established a buffer zone several kilometers wide on Syria's side of the cease-fire line in which UNDOF is deployed and the Syrians may not station troops. There are two further zones in which Israeli and Syrian forces are restricted.

The number of UN troops is limited to 1,200. Their task is to preserve the cease-fire and use their weapons only for self-defense, not for enforcing the cease-fire. The agreement with Syria has been strictly preserved since it was signed, and the Golan front remained calm even when Israel was fighting against the Syrian army, the PLO and Hezbollah in Lebanon.