RNA - Trump on Monday formally recognised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, reversing decades of United State's policy. The announcement came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House in a trip.
Calling the decision a "flagrant attack" on Syrian territorial sovereignty, an official from Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned US' recognition of Israel’s claim to the occupied Golan Heights.
The move embodies Washington’s support for “Zionist occupation”, the foreign ministry told Syrian state media in a statement, stressing that Trump’s decision shows extreme contempt for international law, and is a “slap in the face” for the international community which has condemned the occupation of the Golan Heights in the United Nations.
"Trump does not have the right or legal capacity to legitimize the occupation of other’s territory, and America’s aggressive policy will leave the region and the world vulnerable to danger" the statement read, adding that the decision “makes the United States the main enemy of the Arabs”.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem swiftly condemned the move and said the recognition will not change the fact that the Golan Heights are part of Syrian soil.
“No matter how many years have passed, this will not change the fact that the Golan is an occupied Syrian territory,” he told Syrian state TV, adding, “The US decision will affect nothing, except the isolation of the US.”
The top diplomat also vowed that the Syrian nation, army and UN resolutions will safeguard the Golan Heights.
A statement by the Arab League censured Trump’s decision, saying, “It does not change the legal status of the area in any way.”
Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit stressed that the 22-member organization “strongly supports Syria’s claim to the area, and that the League's stance has been endorsed by Arab nations”.
"This US statement does not change anything in the status of the Golan Heights. The Golan is a piece of occupied Syrian territory ... Occupation is a serious crime, but attempts to legalize this occupation is also a great mistake," Aboul Gheit stated in a statement.
According to the Arab League secretary-general, "this decision is a violation of the international law ... that harms the US authority not only in the Middle Eastern region, but also in the world."
"It will definitely be reflected in the resolutions of the Arab League summit that will be held next week," Aboul Gheit stated.
The status of the Golan Heights has remained unchanged, the United Nations’ stance on the issue is reflected in the relevant Security Council resolutions, the UN Secretary General’s Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a briefing at the UN headquarters.
"It is clear that the status of the Golan has not changed. The UN's policy on the Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and that policy has not changed," he added.
Trump’s move to sign a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights may exacerbate the situation in the Middle East, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian Radio.
"Unfortunately, it may escalate tensions in the Middle East," she emphasized, adding, "Such things… can only exacerbate the situation."
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Trump’s decision to sign a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights will have negative consequences for the situation in the Middle East.
"This decision will definitely have negative consequences both for the Middle East settlement process and the entire atmosphere in the Syrian political settlement. No one doubts about this," Peskov said.
This is another step Washington has taken in violation of international law, he stressed, adding, "We regret this."
Chinese Foreign Ministry's Spokesperson Lu Kang stated that Beijing opposes changing the status quo of Golan Heights through unilateral behavior, calling for the avoidance of escalating regional tensions.
"The international community recognizes Golan Heights as occupied," Lu said, adding that the UN Security Council has passed several resolutions urging Israel to withdraw from Golan Heights.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the decision of the United States to recognize the sovereignty of Israel over the Golan Heights.
"We deplore and strongly condemn the decision of the US Administration to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, held under Israeli occupation since 1967. This unfortunate decision, which constitutes a grave violation of international law, particularly the United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 (1981), demonstrates that the US Administration continues its approach to be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution in the Middle East", the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It added that Trump’s decision was null and void for Turkey.
"Instead of further destabilizing the region with futile attempts to justify Israel's acts against international law, it is an essential responsibility of all members of the international community to comply with the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and UN Security Council Resolutions", the statement read.
Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry denounced Trump’s decision as a violation of all the rules of international law”, saying it “undermines any effort to reach a just peace”.
“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” it noted.
The statement added that the Israeli regime’s attempts to grab more land by way of “force and aggression” would only isolate the entity.
President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the measure and said, “There is no legitimacy that can override UN Security Council resolutions, the UN General Assembly or the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh stressed that the Golan Heights would “forever remain an integral part of Syria”.
Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement against the US move, describing the Golan Heights as occupied Arab land.
Doha also urged Israel to comply with “the resolutions of international legitimacy to withdraw from all occupied Arab territories, including the Golan Heights”.
US close ally, Saudi Arabia, also condemned the Trump administration's recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
"Attempts to impose fait accompli do not change the facts", the statement said as quoted by Reuters. The Golan Heights was an "occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions […] It will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region", the statement stressed.
The Saudi Press Agency, cited by Reuters, described Monday's declaration as a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.
Philippe Nassif, Middle East advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement, “The decision to recognize the Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli territory is irresponsible, reckless and yet another example of the Trump Administration violating international law and consensus by condoning Israel’s illegal annexation.”
“Such announcements—like the administration’s decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the capital of Israel—will only make the human rights crisis in the region worse. Trump must understand that a just and sustainable peace requires full respect for international law and human rights,” he added.
Human Rights Watch
The HRW also censured the Trump administration’s decision “to deny the reality of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights” in a statement.
“President Trump appears poised to drive a wrecking ball through the international law that protects the population of the occupied Golan Heights,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, adding, “If Trump follows through, it may embolden other occupying states to double down on their own land grabs, settlements, and plunder of resources.”
On Friday, in a tweet that caught many by surprise, Trump announced that the time had come for the United States to take the step, which Netanyahu warmly welcomed as a “miracle” on the Jewish holiday of Purim.
The European Union announced that it does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights on Friday after US President Donald Trump moved to do so for the territory viewed by European allies as occupied.
"The position of the EU has not changed," an EU spokeswoman told Reuters.
"The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights and does not consider them to be part of Israel's territory," she added.
A German government spokeswoman also condemned Trump's call to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the strategic territory.
"If national borders should be changed it must be done through peaceful means between all those involved," Spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
According to Fars News Agancy, America's close foreign policy ally Britain stated on Friday it had no plans to change its stance on the Israeli-occupied Golan.
"The UK views the Golan Heights as territory occupied by Israel. Annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law, including the UN Charter," a British foreign office spokesman said in a statement, adding, "We did not recognize Israel’s annexation in 1981 and have no plans to change our position."
Paris also announced on Friday that France does not recognise the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and its recognition is contrary to international law.
“The Golan is a territory occupied by Israel since 1967. France does not recognise the Israeli annexation of 1981,” the French foreign ministry said in a daily briefing, adding that UN Security Council resolutions had recognised the annexation as null and void.
“The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, occupied territory, would be contrary to international law, in particular the obligation for states not to recognise an illegal situation,” it added.
The Golan Heights, which belonged to Syria since 1944, were seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. In 1981, the Israeli parliament passed a law unilaterally declaring sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The UN Security Council declared the annexation null and void in its Resolution 497 in December 1981.