EU Says Does Not Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

Despite Trump's shift toward recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan, European Union still considers the area occupied

A European member of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force looks toward the Syrian side of the Golan Heights from Israel, September 5, 2014.
AFP

The European Union will not change its position regarding the Golan Heights following U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration that it is time to recognize Israel's sovereignty there, the spokesperson for the EU delegation to Israel told Haaretz on Friday morning.

"The position of the EU has not changed. The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights, and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory," the spokesperson said.

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France also said it would not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the disputed area.

"France does not recognize the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and its recognition - as called for by U.S. President Donald Trump - is contrary to international law," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

Germany stated it views the Golan as Syrian territory. "The Golan Heights is Syrian territory occupied by Israel," German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said.

"If national borders should be changed it must be done through peaceful means between all those involved," the spokeswoman added.

Trump tweeted on Thursday that, "After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty [sic] over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability [sic]!''

Fox News reported that the president will sign an executive order recognizing Israel's annexation of the territory next week, likely during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington.

Netanyahu thanked Trump for his declaration, saying, "At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights."

The Assad regime slammed Trump's statement as "irresponsible" and said Syria was determined to recover the area "through all available means." Russia's Foreign Ministry also responded, saying that a change in the status of the Golan Heights would be a direct violation of United Nations decisions.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, said that recognizing the annexation will bring "instability and bloodshed in the region."  Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan struck a similar tone and warned that Trump's statement has brought the region to the edge of a new crisis.

Israel conquered the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967, and in 1981 passed the Golan Heights Law, annexing the territory. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force has been supervising the area's ceasefire line since 1974. The ongoing conflict in Syria has complicated the question of to whom the territory would return if Israel were to relinquish it.