Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

12 January 1999



Middle East

Israel's decision on 21 June 1998 to broaden the jurisdiction and planning boundaries of Jerusalem led to two meetings on the situation in the occupied Arab territories.

The Council issued a presidential statement on 13 July in which it described that decision as a serious and damaging development and called on Israel not to proceed with it or take any other steps which would prejudice the outcome of the permanent status negotiations. It supported the efforts of the United States to break the stalemate in the peace process, and called upon the parties to respond positively to those steps. Noting that the Palestinian side had already given agreement in principle to the United States proposal, it expressed the hope that permanent status negotiations could resume and progress be made towards the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

At a 30 June debate on the situation in the occupied Arab territories, a number of speakers called on Israel to rescind its decision to expand the boundaries of the holy city and cease its expansionist policies. The Observer for Palestine said he hoped the Council would take measures to prevent Israel from taking any further illegal actions in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories. Israel's representative said the "umbrella municipality" was merely a mechanism to coordinate services -- such as public works, sanitation and education -- between Jerusalem and the surrounding communities. Terrorism and violence were the greatest problems facing Jerusalem, and they did not originate in Israel's efforts to preserve the city, he stressed.


The Council again extended the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Syrian Golan, as it has done for 24 years. Resolutions 1169 (1998) of 27 May and 1211 (1998) of 25 November will bring UNDOF through 31 May 1999. The Force was created in 1974 to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria, supervise the disengagement of the two countries' forces, and supervise the areas of separation and limitation, as provided in the Agreement on Disengagement of 31 May 1974.

The Council reiterated its call for implementation of resolution 338 (1973), by which it had called for a ceasefire, the termination of military activity and the immediate implementation of resolution 242 (1967). In that text, the Council called for a just and lasting peace, including the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in 1967, and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area.

Twenty years after it was first established -- initially with a six- month mandate -- the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was extended until 31 July 1999, by Council resolution 1151 (1998) of 30 January. It was subsequently extended until 31 January 1999, by Council resolution 1188 (1998).

In its January meeting, the Council also issued a statement reiterating its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries. It also supported the Lebanese Government's efforts to consolidate peace, national unity and security in the country while successfully carrying out the reconstruction process.

The Council stressed the urgent need for full implementation of resolution 425 (1978), which calls for, among other measures, the immediate withdraw of Israeli forces from all Lebanese territory. It expressed concern over the continuing violence in southern Lebanon, regretted the loss of civilian life and noted the high level of UNIFIL casualties and urged all parties to exercise restraint.

The UNIFIL is mandated to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, and assist the Lebanese Government in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area. While still prevented from implementing its mandate, the Force contributes to the stability and protection of the local population.


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