UN chief dismisses Trump’s declaration: “Golan status has not changed”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “clear that the status of Golan has not changed,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday after US President Donald Trump recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

“The UN’s policy on Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and that policy has not changed,” Dujarric said. Israel seized the strategic land from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

A UN Security Council resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member body in 1981 declared that Israel’s “decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.” It also demanded Israel rescind its decision.

Outrage  over Trump’s action

Syria, its allies, and fellow states in the region on Friday condemned US President Donald Trump’s pledge to recognise Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights slamming the move as a violation of international law.

Moscow warned the policy U-turn could spark new conflicts.

“Such appeals can considerably destabilise an already tense situation in the Middle East,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Hopefully it will remain (just) a call.” Any such move would break with UN Security Council resolutions and with more than half a century of US foreign policy, which treated the Golan as occupied territory whose future would be negotiated in talks with Syria on a comprehensive peace.

The territory’s return has always been a key Syrian national demand, championed by government and rebels alike throughout the bloody civil war that has ripped the country apart since 2011.

In an angry retort, the Syrian government said Trump’s comments disregarded international law.

“The American position towards Syria’s occupied Golan Heights clearly reflects the United States’ contempt for international legitimacy and its flagrant violation of international law,” a foreign ministry source told the official SANA news agency.

Trump’s comments showed the extent of his administration’s “blind bias” towards Israel. “The Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian,” the source said. The foreign ministry sent a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, urging him to reiterate the UN’s rejection of Israeli claims over the Golan, SANA said.

Turkey, which hosted the last indirect peace talks between Israel and the Syrian government in 2008 but has backed Syrian rebels, said the change risked plunging the region into a “new crisis”.

“We will never allow the occupation of Golan Heights to be made legitimate,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

The Druze Arabs who are the inhabitants of the  Golan heights protested  on Saturday US President Donald Trump’s support for Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

“This land has sovereignty and its sovereignty is the Syrian Arab Republic,” said local resident Rafiq Ibrahim  in the town of Majdal Shams.

Agencies