The Biden Administration is mulling whether to retract the recognition of occupied Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory.
The Washington Free Beacon cited an unnamed US State Department spokesman who said that the new administration was considering overturning former US President Donald Trump’s decision.
The State Department official said the territory was not part of any state and control of the area was dependent on the shifting dynamics of the region.
Back in February, asked if his State Department would maintain the Trump administration’s position, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN:
“As a practical matter, the control of the Golan in that situation I think remains of real importance to Israel’s security. Legal questions are something else and over time if the situation were to change in Syria, that’s something we look at, but we are nowhere near that.”
“The secretary was clear that, as a practical matter, the Golan is very important to Israel’s security. As long as [Bashar al-Assad] is in power in Syria, as long as Iran is present in Syria, militia groups backed by Iran, the Assad regime itself—all of these pose a significant security threat to Israel, and as a practical matter, the control of the Golan remains of real importance to Israel’s security,” the State Department official told the Free Beacon.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the Biden administration’s potential decision, telling the Free Beacon the following:
“The Golan Heights are not occupied by Israel, they are a part of it. The Israelis have a right to it as sovereign land. To suggest that these lands should be returned to Syria, even if conditioned on changes in the Syrian regime, is inconsistent with both Israeli security and the international law.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin who pressed United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the Golan issue during a congressional hearing on June 16, said the Biden administration is being intentionally vague about its policy, generating pressing questions on the international stage.
“I pressed UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing about the administration’s position on recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and she acknowledged that the Trump administration policy recognizing Israeli sovereignty is unchanged as of now,” Zeldin said after reviewing the State Department’s most recent comments on the matter. “However, Secretary Blinken and the Biden Administration need to stop beating around the bush, and unambiguously commit to maintain recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights permanently.”
Former U.S. diplomats who worked on the Golan Heights issue also expressed concern over the Biden administration’s comments to the Free Beacon. David Milstein, former special assistant to the U.S. ambassador to Israel under Trump, said walking back U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the area signals “an unconscionable betrayal of our close ally Israel.”
“Our allies depend upon the United States keeping its commitments,” Milstein told the Free Beacon. “But now Secretary Blinken has re-injected the dangerous and delusional idea the U.S. could support pressuring Israel to give up the Golan Heights in the future.”
“In one of the most dangerous regions that can go from bad to worse in an instant, the Golan Heights is crucial for Israel’s security, providing a strategically necessary defensible border to help Israel counter threats to its north,” Milstein said. “This is why there is clear support across Israel’s political spectrum for Israel forever maintaining sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
This could simply be a rumor, but it appears to have caused quite a stir.
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