What was the role of the Second UN Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Israel-Egypt disengagement?
In response to UN Security Council Resolution 340, adopted October 25, 1973, UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim moved immediately to implement it by deploying the United Nations Emergency Force called for in the resolution. This force is often called the Second United Nations Emergency Force (or UNEF II) because a force of thesame name was deployed in the wake of the Sinai Campaign in 1956. It is also sometimes called the United Nations Emergency Force Middle East (UNEFME). The first elements of the Second United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) arrived in Cairo on October 26, 1973. The task of the Force on arrival was to supervise the cease-fire between Egyptian and Israeli forces. The UNEF commander served as the chairman of the Egyptian-Israeli military disengagement negotiations.
Following the conclusion of the agreements of January 18, 1974 and September 4, 1975, negotiated with the help of US Secretary of State Kissinger, the work of UNEF came to include supervision of the redeployment of Egyptian and Israeli forces and to man and control the buffer zones established under those agreements. Initially authorized at 7,000 troops, after several countries withdrew their units in late 1974, the UNEF force stabilized at 4,000 troops from states that were nonpermanent members of the UN Security Council (Sweden, Indonesia, Ghana, Senegal, and Finland). The five permanent Security Council members were prohibited from participating in the peacekeeping force under the terms of Resolution 340. Egyptian and Israeli officers were attached to the UNEF and participated in the monitoring activities. This new element contributed to the development of confidence between Egypt and Israel. Over the years, troops of other countries (Canada, Ireland, …) rotated in and out of the UNEF. After the Sinai II agreement of September 4, 1975, UNEF increased in size slightly to 4,200 plus 124 UN observers. Four helicopters and three light aircraft were added. The UNEF marked the lines on the ground with numbered, weighted oil drums painted white. The markers were placed so that the next in line was visible from the preceding marker. UNEF personnel also supported the construction of the Egyptian early warning station. Extensive monitoring operations were the basis of a stable peace that developed in the buffer zones. UNEF was located in the Suez Canal sector and later the Sinai peninsula, with its headquarters in Ismailia. UNEF II was allowed to expire on July 24, 1979 when the Soviet Union vetoed an extension. Its monitoring work was continued by a joint US-Israeli-Egyptian organization.
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