Israeli Cabinet Minister to U.S. Lawmakers: U.S. Must Recognize Israeli Sovereignty on Golan Heights

U.S. should impose sanctions to prevent permanent Iranian presence in Syria, Minister Yisrael Katz tells members of Congress intelligence committees

Minister Yisrael Katz
Ofer Vaknin

In light of the civil war in Syria and the growing Iranian presence in the country, the United States must recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yisrael Katz told senior members of the Congress' intelligence committees in Washington on Thursday.

During Katz's visit to Washington, he met twice with U.S. President Donald Trump's envoy on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, Jason Greenblatt. The two discussed connecting Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and the Gulf states with a network of railways 

Katz met with the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr from North Carolina, and the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff from California,  and discussed a number of issues concerning Iranian activities in the Middle East, about which Israel and the united States must reach understandings.

The two countries must oppose regular Iranian military presence in Syria in any agreement to end the civil war, Katz said. Such an Iranian presence would force Israel to reinforce its troops and bases on the Golan and in the Galilee in a way that would be an economic and social burden on Israel, without even a single missile being fired at Israel, he told them. The United States must act together with other countries in the region to prevent Iran form creating a continuous land bridge from Iran, via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, said Katz.   

Another issue Katz raised was the need to impose sanctions on Iran and Hezbollah because of their involvement in terrorism and the support they provide to other terrorist organizations. Such sanctions must paralyze Hezbollah in order to weaken the group, he said in his meetings. This is how we can prevent a situation in which Hezbollah firing rockets at Israeli civilians and the country's critical infrastructure will lead to Israel having no choice but to respond harshly against Lebanon, added Katz.