Israel’s Intelligence Minister, Yisrael Katz, has revealed that Tel Aviv demanded the US administration recognise its sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.Katz said in statements, which the Hebrew radio reported yesterday, that “the current period is the most appropriate time for this demand, especially following Washington’s response to the previous demands of the Israeli government regarding the transfer of the US embassy to the occupied city of Jerusalem and the withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement.”
He explained that the issue of recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan was raised during the first formal meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump in February 2017, and pointed out that it is currently under discussion at several levels within the US administration and Congress.The Israeli minister added: “I think there are a great opportunity and a great possibility for this to happen this year.” Katz’s statements came after US House of Representatives’ member Ron DeSantis unveiled that he submitted an initiative to Congress which states that it recognises the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as “Israeli territory”. DeSantis, a Republican politician from Florida, said in statements published on Hebrew Walla site last Sunday: “I have presented an appropriate draft protocol to the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and it is expected to receive substantial support in Congress.”
He went on saying that his proposal came after his participation in the opening of the US embassy in occupied Jerusalem. He clarified: “I wondered about the next step … In light of the civil war in Syria and the expansion of Iranian influence there, especially near the northern gate of Israel, it is time to stand by Israel and recognise its sovereignty over the Golan.”
“In any future scenario, Israel should not be pressured to give up the Golan to [Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad or to Iran, given its strategic importance.” he asserted.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, during his first cabinet meeting in the occupied Golan Heights in April 2016, that “Israel will never withdraw from all the territories it occupied in Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.”Tel Aviv implemented Israeli legislation on the Golan Heights in 1981 after the Knesset approved its annexation of the area, although it still considers it negotiable under a peace agreement with Syria.
50,000 people live in the Golan Heights, which covers an area of about 1,200 square kilometres. Given its geostrategic importance, it provides a view over large areas of the surrounding plains in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The large ground water reserves of the Golan are also important for the occupation, which depends on the Jordan River and the ground water in the Golan to secure one third of its water needs. According to international law, the Golan Heights is occupied territory and subject to UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967, which stipulates that Israel should withdraw from it.