Israel says it will keep Golan Heights as Assad’s fortunes change, US views change
JERUSALEM, Oct. 11 (Reuters) – Israel will retain the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 war, even if international views on Damascus change, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday.
In 2019, then-US President Donald Trump broke with other world powers by recognizing Israel as sovereign over the Golan Heights, which he annexed in 1981 in an internationally unrecognized move.
Bennett’s remarks came as the current US administration guarded against the legal status of the Golan Heights and some Arab states allied with the US softened their rejection of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his handling of a long-standing civil war. ten years. Read more
Addressing a conference on the future of the Golan Heights, Bennett said that Syrian internal conflicts had “convinced many people around the world that perhaps it is better that this magnificent and strategic territory be in the hands of the United Nations. State of Israel.
“But even in a situation where – as it might happen – the world changes course on Syria, or compared to Assad, it has no bearing on the Golan Heights,” he told the forum. organized by the conservative Makor Rishon newspaper.
“The Golan Heights are Israeli, period.”
ASSAD GRIP ON POWER
Assad’s two-decade extension of presidency in the May elections did little to break his pariah status in the West, but other Arab leaders accept that he retains a strong grip on power.
Geopolitical considerations contributing to their recalculation include calls for support from Assad, Russia, for the reintegration of Syria, Washington’s more passive regional approach, and Arab hopes of countering Iranian and Turkish influence in Damascus.
Without changing the policy, President Joe Biden’s administration has been wary of the Golan Heights, portraying Israel’s grip in de facto rather than de jure terms.
When asked in an interview in February whether Washington would continue to view the Golan Heights as part of Israel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his openness to a possible review of the policy on a territory. which most countries consider to be under occupation. Read more
“As long as Assad is in power in Syria, as long as Iran is present in Syria, Iranian-backed militias … control of the Golan Heights in this situation, I think, remains very important for the security of Israel, ”he said. told CNN.
“Legal issues are another thing. And, over time, if the situation were to change in Syria, this is something we would look into.”
In his speech, Bennett pledged to double the size of the Israeli population on the Golan Heights, which is currently roughly equal to an Arab Druze community that often professes loyalty to Syria.
Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alex Richardson
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