Skip to main content

World Security Council slams U.S. for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a signed proclamation on the Golan Heights alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House on March 25, 2019.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The United States came under sharp criticism from the 14 other Security Council nations Wednesday for its decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights in violation of council resolutions.

Speaker after speaker at the open meeting supported Syria’s sovereignty over the strategic plateau and opposed Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and President Donald Trump’s proclamation earlier this week.

As South Africa’s U.N. Ambassador Jerry Matjila said, “this unilateral action does nothing to assist in finding a long-term peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East.”

Story continues below advertisement

He and others pointed to resolutions calling for Israel to end its occupation of the Golan Heights, including a December 1981 Security Council resolution that called Israel’s annexation of the strategic area “null and void and without international legal effect.”

Syria’s closest ally Russia urged governments to continue to view the Golan Heights as Israeli-occupied territory.

“If anybody feels any temptation to follow this poor example, we would urge them to refrain from this aggressive revision of international law,” Russia’s deputy ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said.

While Syria got support on its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen and Britain’s Ambassador Karen Pierce also used the meeting to criticize President Bashar Assad’s government for bombing civilians, using chemical weapons and violating human rights violations during the ongoing eight-year civil war.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in 1981. A 1974 ceasefire agreement that officially ended the 1973 Mideast war led to the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force known as UNDOF on the Golan Heights.

Trump’s proclamation that the Golan Heights are part of Israel raised questions about the future of UNDOF after its mandate expires on June 30.

Acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the council UNDOF has “a vital role to play in preserving stability between Israel and Syria,” an assurance that the Trump administration’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau won’t affect its operation.

Story continues below advertisement

He said the force’s mandate to ensure that the area of separation between Syria and Israel “is a buffer zone free from any military presence or activities” is of “critical strategic and security importance” to Israel, and “can contribute to the stability of the entire Middle East.”

Cohen said U.S. recognition that the Golan Heights are part of Israel doesn’t affect the 1974 ceasefire agreement, “nor do we believe that it undermines UNDOF’s mandate in any way.”

He strongly criticized “the daily presence of the Syrian armed forces” in the area of separation, where UNDOF is the only military force allowed, calling their presence a violation of the 1974 ceasefire agreement.

The United States calls on Russia to use its influence with President Bashar Assad “to compel the Syrian forces to uphold their commitment” to the ceasefire agreement “and immediately withdraw from the area of separation,” Cohen said.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean Pierre Lacroix told the council there is “a continued significant threat” to UNDOF personnel from explosive remnants of war, “and from the possible presence of sleeper cells of armed groups including (U.N.) listed terrorist groups.”

Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo expressed hope that “the recent developments will not be used as an excuse by anyone to pursue actions that could undermine the relative stability of the situation on Golan and beyond.”

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter