May 22, 2019

U.S. State Department Recognizes Golan Heights As Israeli Territory

Photo from Pixabay.

The U.S. State Department has officially recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory in its new human rights report.

Axios reports that the human rights report, which was released on March 13, recognizes the Golan Heights as being “under Israeli control”; prior administrations had recognized it as “occupied territory.” The report also removed the “occupied” term in referencing Judea and Samaria.

A senior State Department official told Axios, “As we stated last year, we retitled this Human Rights Report to refer to the commonly used geographic names of the area the report covers: Israel, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and Gaza. That is in line with our practices generally. We also believe it is clearer and more useful for readers seeking information on human rights in those specific areas. The title of the report was updated to reflect current practices in the Department and to be clearer and more useful to readers and researchers.”

The State Department’s Golan Heights move comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) have lobbied for the Trump administration to formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Axios notes that referring to the Golan Heights as “under Israeli control” isn’t “a recognition of Israeli sovereignty,” it is “a clear signal in that direction.”

According to Jewish Virtual Library (JVL), the Golan Heights was under Syria’s control from 1948-1967; Israel took control of it after the Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981. If Israel were to withdraw from the Golan Heights, it “could jeopardize its early warning system against surprise attack,” JVL notes.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that the Israel Defense Forces revealed on March 13 that they discovered a “Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure” in the Golan Heights.