Germany Rejects Netanyahu's Vow to Keep the Golan Heights

Berlin is the first capital to respond to Netanyahu's declaration at a cabinet meeting held in the territory captured from Syria and annexed in 1981.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on an army tour in the Golan Heights, April 11, 2016.
Kobi Gideon / GPO

The German government on Monday rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's vow that the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 war and later annexed, "will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty." 

Germany was the first country to respond to Netanyahu's declaration at a cabinet meeting held on Sunday in the Golan Heights.

Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, said Israel's unilateral annexation of the territory is against international law.

"It's a basic principle of international law and the UN charter that no state can claim the right to annex another state's territory just like that," Schaefer said.

Israel annexed the Golan in 1981, in a move unanimously rejected the same year by the United Nations Security Council.

Schaefer said Germany isn't currently demanding the immediate return of the territory due to the security situation in Syria.

Netanyahu said on Sunday that he made his position clear in a conversation two days ago with U .S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Netanyahu's declaration came as UN-sponsored international efforts are being made to obtain a political accord to end the civil war in Syria.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office say that Syrian President Assad demanded that one principle upon which the international talks will be based is that the Golan Heights be considered occupied territory that must be returned to Syria.

On Thursday, Netanyahu will fly to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu’s senior aides say the prime minister plans to bring up this issue at their meeting and to stress the same message to Putin.