Following US president Trump’s proclamation last Monday when he officially recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued yesterday a declaration on behalf of the EU, denouncing the recognition. The brief statement (27 March) says that the position of the EU as regards the status of the Golan Heights has not changed. “In line with the international law and UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 497, the European Union does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.”
Resolution 242 from November 1967 – a corner stone in the peace process since then and until now accepted by both parties to the conflict – emphasized “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”.
The Golan Heights were conquered by Israel from Syria in the six-days war in 1967 and annexed in 1981. It’s populated by 27 000 Syrian Druze, a religious minority group, and about the same number of Israeli residents.
In the nineties until 2011, when Syria plunged into civil war, there were negotiations between Israel and Syria about a solution. Israel was then in principle prepared to withdraw from all of the Golan in return for security arrangements.
The security situation today, after the Assad regime in Damascus has retaken almost all territory with Russian and Iranian support, is totally different and any resuming of peace talks is hardly likely. The Israeli government welcomed Trump’s recognition as a diplomatic victory.
A senior Israeli official even said the recognition proves that Israel can retain “occupied territories captured in a defensive war”, a statement that does not bode well for any peace talks about the occupied Palestinian territories and the American peace plan which is expected to be presented after the Israeli parliamentary elections on 9 April.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked, upon departing to Washington to meet President Trump, that “there is a very important principle in international life – when you start wars of aggression, you lose territory; do not come and claim it afterwards.”
“It belongs to us,” he added. “We have returned to the Golan; the Golan is ours. The Golan is ours by historic right and by right of self-defence.”
Trump’s recognition can be seen as an interference in the election campaign in Israel in favour of Netanyahu who is fighting for his political survival in the midst of corruption allegations. In the prevailing political climate, even the opposition parties did not dare to question Trump’s disservice to Israel and the revival of the peace process.
A spokesperson for the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs declined to comment on EU’s declaration.
The Brussels Times