Trump's statement on Golan Heights leads the region to new crisis

Trump's statement on Golan Heights leads the region to new crisis

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump tweeted that “it is time” to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Following by, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the presidential tweet as an already made decision. On Friday, the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation regarded such statements as another manifestation of Washington’s disregard for the international law, UN Security Council resolutions, the principle of land for peace, developed during the Madrid Peace Conference co-sponsored by Russia and the United States in the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative. Smolensk Square considers that such statements of Washington are following the line of the current US administration trying to revise the generally accepted international legal framework for resolving the situation in the Middle East.

Russia's position on this issue remains unchanged: the Golan Heights are the Syrian territory, which Israel occupied as a result of the 1967 war, and 14 years later illegally annexed. In 1981, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution according to which the decision of Israel to establish its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the Golan Heights is invalid and has no international legal force. The Russian Foreign Ministry thinks that an important step on the path of stabilization would be the return of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force to the Golan Heights that became possible due to Russia's efforts. Last year, the Russian military police began to patrol the Bravo line, which allowed international observers to freely perform the tasks on disengagement assigned to them.

As Deutsche Welle writes in the article Russia, Iran and Syria slam Trump's Golan Heights comments, a host of countries on Friday criticized President Donald Trump's announcement that the United States intends to unilaterally recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied-Golan Heights. Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the move showed "the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist entity," in reference to Israel. Damascus added that Trump's statement won't change "the fact that Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian."

Iran's Foreign Ministry said the "illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it belongs to Syria."

The European Union said that "in line with international law, (the EU) does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights and does not consider them to be part of Israel's territory."

The German Foreign Ministry said the government rejects unilateral moves and national borders can only change through peaceful negotiations.

In Turkey, where the Organization of the Islamic Conference was gathering, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Trump's announcement "brings the region to the edge of a new crisis."

The US announcement over the Golan Heights is likely to stoke regional tensions over the contested territory, which Syria demands be returned in exchange for any future peace deal with Israel.

Iranian forces backing the Assad regime, its Lebanese ally Hezbollah and the Syrian Army have positions close to the Israel-Syria frontier. This is viewed as a threat by Israel, which has carried out scores of airstrikes to push back against Iranian entrenchment in Syria. 

US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would also set a precedent that territory can be captured in war in violation of international law. UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 497, both supported by the United States, provide the legal basis stating that Israeli occupation of Syrian territory is in violation of international law.

The Syrian civil war has severely weakened the authority of the state, giving Israel an opportunity to exert its claims over the Golan Heights. It also comes as Israeli’s right-wing government has a friend in the Trump administration which already recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital . Analysts say Trump’s announcement may give a boost to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of April 9 elections and distract attention away from multiple corruption investigations swirling around him.