The IDF Liaison Unit was established to represent the IDF and implement IDF policy for foreign forces stationed in the area in accordance with relevant international agreements. The unit helps to reduce friction and develop fair and amicable woking relations,so as to enable the IDF to fulfill its duties and to achieve its goals.
The IDF Liaison Unit maintains contact between the IDF, UN and other foreign forces operating under various security arrangements in the region. These contacts include liaison between the IDF and the MFO (Multi-National Force and Observers) in the Sinai, UNDOF on the Golan Heights, UNIFIL in South Lebanon, and UNTSO in Jerusalem. The Unit has recently been charged with contacts with the Jordanian Military Liaison Unit. In addition, the Head of the IDF Liaison Unit serves as Head of the Israeli delegation to the Monitoring Group, established after the "Grapes of Wrath" operation in southern Lebanon, 26 April 1996.
The Unit also constitutes a bridge between these foreign forces, the IDF and Israel Government authorities, while maintaining contact between them, in order to assist, escort and supervise the fulfillment of their tasks according to the force mandate.The Unit is responsible for advising the IDF General Staff, the regional commanders, IDF units, and even governmental authorities on matters concerning the foreign forces. Other important aspects of the Unit's mission are to particpate in the negotiations of cease-fire agreements and delineation of lines, as well as matters concerning locating soldiers missing in action and prisoner exchanges. The Unit also informs foreign forces about the IDF and its missions and educates IDF soldiers about the mandate of its international forces.
The IDF Liaison Unit Headquarters is based in Tel Aviv. The HQ of a sub-unit for liaison with the UN forces is based in Safed, (with branches on the Golan Heights and Rosh Hanikra). The HQ for liaison with the Egyptian Liaison Agency with International Organizations and with and MFO is based in Tel Aviv with branches in Rafah and Taba. The HQ for liaison with the Jordanian liaison Unit and the UNTSO HQ is located in Jerusalem, with branches at the Arava Crossing, the Allenby Bridge, and the Jordan River Bridge.
UNTSO, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, located in the Government House in Jerusalem, was established in 1948 to separate the forces following the War of Independence and its authority was enlarged in the Cease Fire Agreements of 1949. UNTSO today maintains positions in Lebanon within UNIFIL's territory (Observation Group Lebanon, OGL) as well as on the Golan Heights and in the Sinai. The IDF Liaison Unit continues to liaise with and offer services to UNTSO.
UNDOF, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force was established in 1974 to supervise the separation and disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights. The Force's mandate is renewed every 6 months by the UN Security Council in accordance with Israel and Syria. The force is composed of 1300 soldiers divided into two battalions (Austrian and Polish) one logistic unit (Canadian) and a transportation company (Japan). Teams from the UNTSO are deployed in observation posts and are responsible for carrying out regular inspections of troops on the Golan Heights. The force's HQ is based in Damascus. The IDF Liaison Unit maintains continuous contact with UNDOF and accompanies it on various missions. The Kuneitra Station which serves as a crossing point between Israel and Syria is also controlled by the IDF Liaison Unit.
UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was established following Operation Litani in 1978 (without Israel's consent). The force's mandate is renewed every 6 months in accordance with the Lebanese government and the UN Security Council. The force which consists of 4500 soldiers from 9 nations, and is composed of 6 infantry battalions, is deployed in southern Lebanon. The HQ's is based in Naqura. UNTSO military observers are deployed in observation posts along the border between Israel and Lebanon. The Liaison Unit maintains continuous direct contact with UNIFIL HQ to handle problems in the Security Zone in southern Lebanon, even though there are no agreements between UNIFIL and Israel. The Unit is responsible for the crossing of UNIFIL personnel at the Rosh Haniqra and Metula crossing points.
The MFO, Multinational Force and Observers was founded in 1981, with the objective of supervising the military limitations established by the Peace Treaty with Egypt. A total of 2012 people from 11 different countries make up the MFO force, whose HQ is located in El Gorah. The force is deployed in the Sinai peninsula along the international border, from Rafah in the north to Sharm El-Sheik in the south. The Liaison Unit maintains a continuous and direct communication (including meetings, direct phone and fax lines) with the MFO members both in the Sinai and in Tel Aviv.
The Liaison Units' objectives in regards to the MFO include representing the IDF and the Israel defense establishment in all issues related to operations, logistics, administration and budget of the MFO. Responsibilities also include the processing of reports and requests from the MFO and passing them through to the relevant authorities within the IDF, the defense establishment and other organizations in order to obtain answers to the requests. Cooperation in the administrative field with the MFO and mediation between the force and relevant military and civilian organizations are included, as well, within the framework of the cooperation between the Unit and the force.The Liaison Unit also deals with violations of the Peace Treaty and organizes forums in order to tend to these problems.
Egyptian Laison Agency With International Organizations (LAWIO)
The HQ of the IDF Liaison Unit to Foreign Forces maintains direct contact with the Egyptian liaison system (LAWIO) - Liaison Agency with International Organizations, both on the professional and the personal levels. The IDF Liaison Unit establishes direct relations with its Egyptian counterpart by meetings and other means of communication. The Unit's branches in Rafah and Taba keep up their contact with the Liaison officers along the Egyptian - Israeli border. Their responsibilities include observing the implementation of the military appendix of the Peace Treaty, discussions regarding ongoing matters, violations, and the improvement of the mutual cooperation on the field level, in order to minimize the activities that could potentially endanger the security on both sides.
Contacts With The Jordanian Armed Forces
The HQ of the IDF Liaison Unit to Foreign Forces is also in contact with the liaison apparatus of the Jordanian Army. Since October 1994, when the Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan was signed, the relations between the two armies has significantly increased, both on the professional and the personal levels. The IDF Liaison Unit maintains direct relations with its Jordanian counterpart through meetings and other means of communication. The contact is established with the Jordanian Army liaison officers at all crossing points along the Israeli-Jordanian border by the main branch of the Unit in Jerusalem and the sub-branches in the Arava, Allenby and the Jordan River crossing. Their objectives are to observe the implementation of the military appendix of the Peace Treaty, to meet and discuss ongoing matters, and to improve the mutual cooperation on the field level in order to minimize the activities that could potentially endanger the security on both sides. In addition, the Unit promotes, together with its Jordanian colleagues the collaboration between the two armies, by conducting professional meetings of mutual interest, both in Israel and in Jordan.
The Monitoring Group For The Application of the " Grapes of Wrath" Understandings
In addition, CO IDF Liaison Unit serves as the Head of the Israeli delegation to the Monitoring Group, established following the "Grapes of Wrath" operation, in order to monitor the application of the understanding achieved between Israel and Lebanon on April 26th,1996. The Monitoring Group consists of delegates headed by military reperesentatives of the five countries: the United States, France, Syria Lebanon and Israel. The Monitoring Group has a chair and a Co-chair, whose responsibilities are undertaken by the United States and France alternately. Each Chair serves for five months. The Chair of the Monitoring Group receives complaints in writing from Lebanon and Israel and circulates them among the members of the group. He then calls for meetings and conducts them at UNIFIL headquarters in Naqura.
Sources: Israel Defense Forces