U.S. Golan Recognition Proves Israel Can Retain Occupied Territories, Senior Israeli Official Says

The statement draws a comparison between the Golan Heights and the West Bank, both occupied in 1967

A general view shows the town of Majdal Shams near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights March 25, 2019.
\ AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

The U.S. recognition of Israeli's sovereignty over the Golan Heights proves Israel can retain occupied territories captured in a defensive war, a senior Israeli diplomatic source said Tuesday. 

According to the source, who was present aboard Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 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."

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The statement draws a comparison between the Golan Heights and the West Bank, both occupied in 1967. Right-wing Israeli parties estimate that recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights will serve as the basis for a future annexation of Area C in the West Bank.

The source praised the "historically and diplomatically important" move by the Trump administration, citing the "total" support of a superpower such as the U.S. 

>> Trump handed Netanyahu the Golan with a bow on top. It's a first step toward full annexation ■ Donald Trump has just legitimized Israel's illegal conquest of occupied territory | Opinion ■ FULL TEXT: Trump's proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign a presidential proclamation officially recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory on Monday, thus formalizing a move announced with a tweet earlier on Thursday.

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."

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area, the European Union issued a statement Friday that it will not change its position regarding the Golan Heights: "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."

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that it is "clear that the status of Golan has not changed," according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

File photo U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a Golan Heights proclamation after a meeting in the White House, March 25, 2019.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP

"The UN's policy on Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and that policy has not changed," Dujarric said. A UN Security Council resolution adopted by the 15-member body in 1981 declared that Israel's "decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect." It also demanded Israel rescind its decision.

Only around 12 per cent of the Golan's Druze hold Israeli citizenship, as most still reject it on nationalist grounds citing an allegiance to Syria.

The event is overshadowed by an escalation between Israel and Gaza that forced Netanyahu to cut his U.S. trip short.