Israel 'Not Considering' Handing Golan Heights Over to Syria
11:27 GMT 09.09.2021 (Updated: 12:09 GMT 09.09.2021)
The patch of Syrian land was captured by Israel at the end of the Six-Day War in 1967 after Syrian forces attacked Israeli positions during Tel Aviv's confrontation with Egypt. Most of global community does not recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, with the US changing its stance only in 2019.
Tel Aviv is not considering handing over the Golan Heights to Syria, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has said. The minister explained that no talks with Damascus are taking place at the moment and are unlikely to be held in the future.
"No negotiations taking place right now between Israel and Syria. There is not much to negotiate actually aside from security issues. Israel is not even considering, and never will, returning the Golan Heights to Syria, there is no much room for negotiations right now"
This is the first time the new Israeli government has spoken out regarding its position on the Golan Heights issue since Naftali Bennet became prime minister, replacing veteran politician Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israeli forces captured most of the region in response to an artillery and air offensive by the Arab Republic, which came to Egypt's aid in the armed conflict. The war itself started with Israeli airstrikes against Egyptian military air bases, but Tel Aviv insists it was a pre-emptive strike.
Over the years, Israel extended its authority to the Golan Heights, appointing officials and holding local elections there, despite protests from some local communities and a lack of international recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the land. However, the administration of US President Donald Trump changed Washington’s longstanding stance on the issue in 2019, officially recognising the Golan Heights as part of Israel.