MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Israel does not plan on returning the country's northern Golan Heights region to Syria, Koren told Sputnik, commenting on the central roadblock in long-standing conflict between Israel and Syria.
"According to our legislation, the Golan Heights are an independent part within Israel. If anyone keeps thinking that this question has yet to be discussed, it is naive of them. In the past, during the tenure of [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ehud Barak's government, we tried to hold talks, explore the opportunity of talks with [former Syrian president] Hafez Assad, but it did not take us anywhere. Well, thank God it failed. If we had returned the Golan Heights, we would now have Hezbollah and Iranian soldiers over the the Kinneret lake," Koren said.
Iran and its allies, including Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement, support President Bashar Assad's government in the civil war in Syria. Israel regards Iran as its number one threat, pointing at Tehran's curtailed, yet existing, nuclear program, its hostile rhetoric and support offered to anti-Israel forces throughout the Middle East.