Despite Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, U.N. peace-keeping forces will subject Israeli Army deployments there to regular inspections and will consider any Israeli attempt to interfere a violation of the 1974 disengagement agreement, U.N. sources said today.
"We won't raise the problem until the problem arises, but to us, nothing has changed with the annexation....If Israel wants to say, 'No more inspections,' what they really would be saying is that there is no more disengagement agreement, and no more cease-fire, and it would be a very serious matter," a U.N. official said.
Under the 1974 Syrian-Israeli separation-of-forces agreement, a demilitarized buffer zone was established in Syrian territory, running from Mt. Hermon in the north to the Jordanian border in the south. On either side of it, stretching west into Israeli-occupied Syria and east into territory Syria managed to hold at the end of the 1973 war, are two "limited forces zones," each nine miles wide. They in turn are subdivided according to the numbers and sizes of weapons allowed.
Since Israel has, in effect, asserted its sovereignty over the nine-mile-wide limited forces zone on the Israeli-occupied side of the demilitarized zone, questions have arisen about how the government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin will treat the newly annexed area.
Israeli officials said the issue is currently under study, but they stressed that the annexation -- or "application of Israeli law," as they prefer to call it -- has not "as of right now" changed anything with respect to the U.N. rights in the limited-forces zones.
"We don't know of any plan for a change. It is an international commitment of the government, and the government respects it," an Israeli official said. The official said it is too early to tell what position will be taken when the U.N. mandate for peace-keeping in the Golan Heights comes up for renewal next May.
However, disputes between the U.N. peace-keeping forces in the region and Israeli government, particularly over south Lebanon, do occur, and U.N. officials said they would be watching the situation closely.
A U.N. source said that Israel and Syria frequently have interfered in U.N. inspections in violation of the disengagement agreement, and that when the U.N. forces complain, the Israeli Army eventually relents and opens its installations for examination.
"By then, there's nothing to see, of course," the U.N. official said. Inspections are made every two weeks, and also whenever one side alleges a violation of limits on forces. Mortars and light artillery are allowed but restricted in a six-mile-wide zone. Heavy artillery is allowed but restricted within a three-mile zone beyond that. Armor and troop concentrations are also restricted.
When asked what terminology the United Nations will use to describe the Israeli side of the separation line now that Israel has annexed it, the U.N. source said, "We'll just call it the Golan Heights. We don't want to get involved in that kind of thing."
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said today that despite the Syrian Cabinet's declaration that the cease-fire has been "canceled" by the annexation, Israel still regards the cease-fire as valid.
Shamir, in a a television interview, said he expects quiet to continue in the Golan Heights, but that if Syria adopts "warlike action," Israel will take "appropriate steps."
In the Golan Heights, Arab Druze residents began a three-day commercial strike in opposition to the annexation vote by Israel's parliament, closing virtually all stores in the four main Druze villages. There was also a school strike, with 90 percent of the students and teachers staying home, which forced the closure of the school system.
However, the Druze-Israel Friendship League, which supports annexation, announced it plans to hold a pro-Israel rally later this week