EU member states unanimously reject Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights, defying Trump and Netanyahu

US president Donald Trump unilaterally recognised Israel’s sovereignty over the region, which has been occupied since 1967

Jon Stone
Brussels
Thursday 28 March 2019 10:30
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Donald Trump signs declaration formally recognising Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

The 28 member countries of the European Union have unanimously declared that they do not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights region, despite a change in policy by the United States.

This week Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation officially recognising Israel’s control of the area, which it has occupied since 1967 when the Golan Heights was captured from Syria during the Six Day War.

But in a statement approved by the European Council’s 28 members, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs said: “The position of the European Union as regards the status of the Golan Heights has not changed.

“In line with the international law and UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 497, the European Union does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.”

The territory is widely internationally recognised as belonging to Israel’s Arab neighbour.

Mr Trump said: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability.”

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Mr Trump’s recognition was “historic”, while Syria said it was “blatant attack” on its sovereignty and pledged to take the territory back by “all available means”. Turkey and Russia also voiced opposition to the move.

The change in US policy is likely to prove a domestic political boost to Mr Netanyahu, who faces elections on 9 April.

The recognition is the latest policy unveiled by Mr Trump to break with longstanding policy over Israel. Last year the president announced he was moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel says Jerusalem is its capital, but most foreign embassies are based in Tel Aviv because of the holy city’s disputed political status.

That decision saw the Czech republic, Hungary, and Romania follow the US’s lead and announce varying degrees of recognition for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

This week Israel launched more airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, another area under its military occupation, after Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israeli territory. Local authorities say the strikes hurt at least 15 Palestinians, including two women and a child.

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