In November 1947, the UN endorsed a plan to partition Palestine to Arab and Jewish states, which was rejected by the Palestinian people and neighboring Arab states. On May 14, 1948, the British relinquished power over Palestine, and Jewish authorities declared an independent State of Israel. In response, neighboring Arab countries attacked Israel, initiating the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
UNTSO was established by the UN Security Council in 1948 to mediate between the two sides and, beginning in 1949, was tasked with supervising the armistice agreements signed between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Since then, UNTSO has continued its work as a mediator, with its role evolving following the wars of 1956, 1967, and 1973. UNTSO has helped maintain peace between Israel and its neighbors by working with other regional missions to prevent isolated incidents from escalating. In addition, UNTSO personnel have been available on short notice to aid other peacekeeping operations in the region. In the Middle East today, groups of UNTSO military observers are involved in the peacekeeping missions in the Golan Heights (UNDOF) and Lebanon (UNIFIL).