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    An Israeli soldier stands next to signs pointing out distances to different cities, on Mount Bental, an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, Israel May 10, 2018

    Israel Has 'Great Hold' on US Foreign Policy in Middle East – Researcher

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    An Israeli lawmaker is urging the US to officially recognize the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory. In a letter to the US ambassador to Israel, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post, a Knesset member, Yoav Kish, stated that the recognition of Israel’s Golan Heights claim would be a natural continuation of the current US policy.

    Sputnik discussed the timing of the Israel lawmaker's calls with Abdulaziz Alghashian, a Middle East Expert and PhD researcher of international relations and politics of the Middle East at Essex University.

    Sputnik: What is your take on Israel's calls especially in the wake of embassy move and the US withdrawal from the JCPOA? Why has Israel brought up this subject now?

    Abdulaziz Alghashian: Well why now? It's a very interesting development because I think Israel is sensing that it could gain a lot more from the US administration or the Trump administration now, more than it could have ever gotten from any other administration before, and they sense that there is this sense of great bias towards Israel, and they're trying to make the most of it, especially with the move of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, this encouraged them and emboldened them even more, the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, they sense that Israel is having a great hold on US foreign policy in the Middle East.

    Sputnik: Where is this all going? Do you think that this is actually going to happen, the Golan Heights? The UN didn't recognize the annexation of Golan Heights when it was brought to a vote, what's going to happen? Is this going to be recognized? And what's the rest of the world going to do?

    Abdulaziz Alghashian: Well firstly, we have to put it into perspective, the occupation, the annexation of the Golan Heights by Israel is illegal, this has to be mentioned and this has to be put into consideration, so in other words, this legalizing or legitimization of an illegal act under international law, United Nations resolution 497, I believe, completely says it's void.

    READ MORE: Israel Ready to Adopt Measures to Prevent Iran From Gaining Foothold in Syria

    What's going to happen is that if it does legitimize this annexation, this illegal annexation, there will be significant criticisms coming from the Arab world, but I think it will not be a monolithic or a united front because the Arab world now, or the Arab states, they're very suspicious of each other, the Syrian civil war plays a big role in this, but I think what will happen is that, nevertheless, it will very much invoke or result in a united response, and they will be calling for the peace initiative of 2002, the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for the Golan Heights to be returned back to Syria for normal relations with Israel.

    Sputnik: So where is this all leading to? Do you think this is going to happen?

    Abdulaziz Alghashian: This is very interesting because when I heard Pompeo talk about the Iran nuclear deal a couple of days ago, when he said that he criticized Iran because it was lobbying, and Iran deserves its fair share of criticism to be honest with you, it's lobbying things on the Golan Heights, it was a way of almost legitimizing this and he kind of almost legitimized it as if it was Israeli ground, so I think this is what's going to happen, that the US administration and the people and advisors there will indicate or will advise Trump to say: "Listen, you've already went one hell of a step forward in moving the embassy to Jerusalem, this is invoking a lot of anti-Israeli and anti-United States rhetoric, I think is going to be too much if you annex this as well, if you annex the Golan Heights."

    So here I think what they're doing is, they're treading carefully, I think they are showing a lot of sympathy with it, but if it comes to the officialization of the Golan Heights under Israeli territory, I think this will take a lot longer to do, I don't see that happen imminently.

    Sputnik: If it is done by Trump, who never listens to anybody, what will the international response be?

    Abdulaziz Alghashian: The international response will be very, very critical of this and it will just put Israel and the United States in a very difficult position; they have already lost their image of an unbiased or an honest peace broker and is just going to further distance them from the image of an honest peace broker in the region.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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