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Israel demands international recognition of its sovereignty over Jerusalem and Golan Heights

The head of Israel’s opposition party, Yair Lapid (C) speaks to the press with his supporters surrounding him on 12 October 2015 [Stringer/Apaimages]

The head of Israel’s opposition party, Yair Lapid, has called on the international community to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and demanded recognition of Israel’s full sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights.

Under international law, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are both occupied territory and recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories challenges the very foundation of the legal system that underpins the international system.

Israel conquered East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights during the 1967 war. The international community, however, has never recognised its sovereignty over the territory because annexation of territory belonging to another country contravenes the UN charter and the Geneva Convention.

Nevertheless, Israeli politicians like Lapid are undeterred in their attempt to obtain international recognition of the country’s colonial policy. Lapid, who was finance minister between 2013 and 2014 under a Netanyahu-led coalition, is seen as a moderate within Israeli politics. However, he used his address to ambassadors at the Jerusalem Post’s diplomatic conference today to give his backing to the Israeli prime minister’s goal of normalising Israeli colonisation under the eyes of the international community.

Read: The Israelis and redefining sovereignty

“This is the time for the world to recognise full Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Lapid said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “This is also the time for the entire world to recognise united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Lapid said that the new reality in Syria was that “Iran is going from boots on the ground to roots in the ground.” He said this was why there is no scenario in which Israel can or should ever be expected to return the Golan Heights. “Had we returned them to Syria, as the world demanded, we would have had Iranian soldiers staring down at the Galilee, and Iranian artillery aimed directly at our cities.”

The Israeli official’s remarks came a day before US President Donald Trump is expected to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the relocation of the US Embassy to the international city, a decision that upends decades of US policy and risks fuelling violence in the Middle East.

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