19:07 GMT25 January 2021
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    Israel occupied the 1,200 square km strip of Syrian territory during the Six-Day War of 1967, and annexed it in 1981, in a decision the United Nations rejected as "null and void."

    Likud Party lawmaker Yoav Kish has written US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a letter urging the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Jerusalem Post reports, citing a copy of the original letter.

    "In 1981, Israel declared sovereignty over the Golan Heights," Kish wrote. "The Golan Heights has since developed and become an inseparable part of Israel. Today, facing a reality in which the borders of Syria are redefined, a US declaration supporting the Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is imperative," the lawmaker added.

    Citing recent US actions, including Washington's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the US Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Kish stressed that Israelis "believe that President Donald J. Trump is aware of the difficulties in the region."

    "We believe that an official recognition of the Golan Heights as a sovereign Israeli territory would be a natural continuation of the current US policy in our region," the Knesset lawmaker noted.

    Donald Trump's Jerusalem embassy decision also prompted some US officials to call on the president to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. This week, Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis said such recognition would be significant, and that it would show a readiness to take a firm position on a sensitive issue.

    The UN Security Council never recognized Israel's 1967 occupation and 1981 de-facto annexation of Syria's Golan Heights, calling the decision to impose Israeli "laws, jurisdiction and administration" over the territory "null and void and without international legal effect." In 2016, Israeli Prime Minister vowed that Tel Aviv would never return the Golan Heights to Damascus.

    In addition to its military significance, the Golan Heights is a strategic source of freshwater. Following the 1967 war, upwards of 131,000 Syrians living in the region are believed to have fled or been expelled.

    Israel's rocky relations with its neighbors took a turn for the worse this month, with the US Jerusalem embassy move sparking bloody clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip and protests at the UN.

    A majority of countries, including most of Washington's allies, Russia, China, and others have their embassies to Israel in Tel Aviv. A December 2017 UN resolution requiring members not to establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem garnered the support of 128 member states, with 35 abstaining and only nine, including the US, voting to reject the measure.


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    occupation, recognition, Likud Party, Yoav Kish, Donald Trump, US, Golan Heights, Syria, Israel
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