UN Security Council rebuffs Israel on Golan claim
The UN Security Council on Tuesday rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assertion that the Golan Heights in Syria would "forever" remain under Israeli control.
The 15-member council agreed that the status of the Golan, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967, "remains unchanged," said Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who holds this month's council presidency.
Liu recalled a 1981 resolution which states that Israel's "decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights was nul and void and without any international legal effect."
Council members "expressed deep concern" over the Israeli statements and "stressed that the status of the Golan remains unchanged," said Liu.
Responding to the decision, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said: "This discussion completely ignores the reality of the Middle East.
"While thousands are being massacred in Syria, and millions more have become refugees, the Security Council chooses to focus on the State of Israel — the only democracy in the Middle East," Danon continued.
"The council should not allow parties with clear political interests to use it as a battering ram against Israel."
Organization of Islamic Cooperation slams Netanyahu's Golan Heights comments
Meanwhile, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Tuesday released a statement condemning Netanyahu's recent declaration that Israel would never give up the Golan Heights.
At an extraordinary meeting of the OIC's executive council, convened in response to the fresh tensions over the Golan, the 57-member group also called on the international community to "assume its responsibilities in compelling Israel to implement the international legitimacy resolutions calling on Israel to fully withdraw from all occupied Arab territories."
The statement included the Golan Heights within these areas, as well as the Shebaa Farms, a strip of land that sits between the Syria-Lebanon border and the Golan Heights. It further slammed what it called "Israel's attempts to impose Israeli nationality and identity cards on the Syrian Arab citizens."
In recent years, in response to the ongoing Syrian civil war, some Druze residents of the Golan have sought Israeli citizenship. Currently, the majority of Druze in the Golan hold permanent residency status, after rejecting citizenship in the wake of Israel's capture of the area during 1967's Six-Day War.
The Golan Heights shot back into the headlines after the weekly government cabinet meeting was, for the first time ever, held in the area 10 days ago, at which Netanyahu vowed that "Israel will never withdraw from the Golan Heights."
The US, Germany and the EU all rejected Netanyahu's characterization of the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory in the wake of his remarks.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad shot back that Syria will "retake the Golan Heights by any means necessary, including using military force."
The topic was also raised by Netanyahu during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week, where he declared the establishment of a "terror front" in the Golan a "red line."
(Staff with AFP)
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