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EU denies Israel's claim to Golan Heights

By
Darryl Coote
Bashar Ja’afari, permanent representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations, addresses the Security Council over his country's objection to the United State's recognition of Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights. Photo courtesy of United Nations
Bashar Ja’afari, permanent representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations, addresses the Security Council over his country's objection to the United State's recognition of Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights. Photo courtesy of United Nations

March 28 (UPI) -- The European Union said Wednesday that it is not changing its view to accept Israel's claim to sovereignty over Golan Heights, hours after the United Nations chastised the United States for overturning decades of American policy by accepting Israeli rule of the disputed stretch of land.

"The position of the European Union as regards the status of the Golan Heights has not changed," all 28 EU member states said in a statement. "In line with the international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 497, the European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights."

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The stretch of land between the two Middle Eastern countries was seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. In 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, which extended its law over the area, a move that was condemned by the U.N. Security Council who requested that Israel "rescind forthwith its decision."

Minutes after the EU made its declaration, Israeli lawmakers rebuked the statement.

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"Shame on you," New Right Party leader and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett told the EU on Twitter in a video.

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"We'll continue building our amazing country, and we'll continue defending the free world from radical Islam even though you don't deserve it," he said.

The debate over Golan Heights was reignited Monday when President Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognizing Israel's 1981 annexation of Golan Heights from Syria during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to the United States.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council chastised the United States for its decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the area.

The meeting was called after a request by Syria to address the declaration, which it called a "flagrant" U.S. violation of a Security Council resolution denying acknowledgment of Israeli control of the land between Israel and Syria.

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Syria's representative at the Security Council Bashar Ja'afari accused the United States Wednesday of protecting Israel at the risk of international peace and security.

"World public opinion is isolating the U.S. and Israel, they are operating outside of international law and they are a direct threat to peace and security," he told the council, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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He further accused the United States of having repeatedly destabilized the Middle East and was now supporting Israel's claim to Golan Heights to improve Netanyahu's chances of winning the April 9th general election.

"The Syrian Arab Golan is ours, it will come back to us. Don't be misguided by thinking that one day this land will be yours," Ja'afari said.

The Israeli ambassador then accused Syria of hypocrisy, given the Assad regime's harboring of Iran and Hezbollah to attack Israel from its borders while also killing its own citizens.

"I ask you today to whom does the U.N. want to give the Golan: to Iranian fighters, to Shi'ite militias, to jihadist forces?" Danon asked, adding, "The war crimes of the dictator from Damascus will someday be stopped. But Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights will continue forever."

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesman Robert Palladino said Trump's recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights was strategic.

"To allow the Golan Heights to be controlled by the likes of Syrian and Iranian regimes would be to turn a blind eye to threats emanating from a Syrian regime that engages in atrocities, and from Iran and terrorist actors, including Hezbollah, that would seek to use the Golan Heights as a launching ground for attacks against Israel," he said in a press briefing.

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Depriving Israel of the ability to defend that area would undermine Israeli security, he said.

"And enhancing the Golan Heights is to enhance Israel's security and which, strengthens, frankly, our ability to partner with Israel to fight the common threats that we face," he said.

During the Wednesday meeting, Acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told council, Trump's recognition will not undermine the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, a U.N. peacekeeping force deployed in Golan Heights.

UNDOF has "a vital role to play in preserving stability between Israel and Syria," he said.

Neither Syria nor Israel are permeant members of the Security Council but were both invited to discuss this issue.

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