EU States Unanimously Announce: We Do Not Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

European Union foreign policy chief releases statement on behalf of 28 union states, despite Netanyahu's past claims that his actions were going to break EU unanimity in matters concerning Israel

A horse walks in the snow in the Golan Heights, January 8, 2015
Ariel Schalit,AP

The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini released a statement Wednesday on behalf of all 28 union states saying the EU "does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights." 

The statement follows a previous one from the EU delegation in Israel on Friday, which came after U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration that it is time to recognize Israel's sovereignty there.

Mogherini's statement differs in that it required a consensus among all 28 member states to be released. Therefore, it reflects the official stance of countries such as Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Austria, Lithuania and Romania - whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu courted in recent years in order to break up the unanimity within the EU when it comes to Israel.

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"The position of the European Union as regards the status of the Golan Heights has not changed. In line with the international law and UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 497, the European Union does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights," the statement said.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini at a press conference, Brussels, January 21, 2019.
AFP

Also Wednesday, the French mission to the United Nations said it intended to push for the Security Council to convene for a public session on the Middle East which would include the Golan Heights.

On Monday, Trump met with Netanyahu in Washington to sign a presidential proclamation officially recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, formalizing the move announced with his tweet.

In a joint press conference, Trump said: "We do not want to see another attack like the one suffered this morning north of Tel Aviv," adding: "Our relationship is powerful." Trump then said: "We will confront the poison of anti-Semitism."

Netanyahu called Trump's decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights "historic justice" and a "diplomatic victory," saying that "Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of defense."

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

On Tuesday, a senior Israeli official said Trump's recognition proves Israel can retain occupied territories captured in a defensive war.

According to the source, who was present aboard Netanyahu's flight from Washington to Israel, "Everyone says you can't hold an occupied territory, but this proves you can. If occupied in a defensive war, then it's ours."

Arab Gulf states - including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait - denounced the decision.

In addition, thousands of Syrians gathered Tuesday in different cities to protest the announcement.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who chairs the Palestine Liberation Organization, blasted Trump's announcement, which he said will further destabilize the Middle East.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "The Golan Heights is an occupied Arab territory, according to the international community and UN resolution 497, which was adopted in 1981 by the Security Council. The international community should honor its stance, preventing Israeli sovereignty over the area.

Druze leaders in the Golan Heights, meanwhile, called Trump's announcement "a delusional declaration of a delusional man. The decision changes nothing in terms of the status of the Golan according to international law or for the Druze residents and was clearly meant to help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu politically.

According to Hamas, Trump's remarks constitute a blatant violation of the international law and contradict the stance of the international community. The Gaza organization added that Trump's move is a new kind of aggression against Arab nations.

Islamic Jihad, another faction in the Gaza Strip, echoed Hamas' statement, stating that "Trump is supporting the Israeli occupation and aggression, proving the U.S. is completely bias in favor of Israel."  

Fatah said "Trump's statement doesn’t change the fact [the Golan] is an occupied territory.” Fatah also accused Trump of supporting colonialism and slavery.