Middle East

Arabs decry illegal US decision on Golan Heights

Trump signed an order recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights

Mahmoud Barakat   | 26.03.2019
Arabs decry illegal US decision on Golan Heights

ANKARA

Arab countries have decried as illegal a U.S. move to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation officially recognizing the area as an Israeli territory.

Saudi Arabia rejected the U.S. proclamation, saying it "will not change the facts". 

"Attempts to impose a fait accompli would not change the facts," the kingdom said in a statement cited by the official SPA news agency on Tuesday.

It reiterated that the Golan Heights is an occupied Syrian Arab territory.

Israel captured most of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Middle East war. It moved to formally annex the territory in 1981 -- an action unanimously rejected at the time by the UN Security Council.

Bahrain's Foreign Ministry warned that the U.S. move would disrupt peacemaking efforts in the Middle East.

In a statement, the ministry underlined its "firm stance that the Golan Heights is a Syrian Arab land occupied by Israel in 1967".

It called for rallying efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Syrian Golan Heights and withdrawal from all Arab lands occupied in 1967 "with a view to achieving comprehensive, just and durable peace in the region". 

Mauritania also regretted the U.S. move, saying it "violates all principles that regulate international law."

The decision "breaches international legitimacy resolutions especially resolution 947 and destabilizes the whole region and the world," the Mauritania Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It went on to affirm Mauritania's support for the Syrian right to its Golan Heights. 

Qatar underlined its rejection of the U.S. move, affirming its "principal stance that the Golan Heights is an occupied Arab land."

"Supporting the Israeli occupation to disdain UN resolutions regarding the occupied Golan Heights, especially Security Council resolution 497 [1981], will not change the facts," the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

UN Security Council Resolution 497 (1981) reads in part: “The Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.”

The resolution goes on to call for Israel’s withdrawal from the territory.

On Monday, the UN said the Golan’s legal status would remain unchanged -- despite Trump’s announcement -- and would still be considered an “occupied territory” under international law. 

Meanwhile, Lebanese President Michel Aoun also opposed the Trump’s decision, calling it a “black day” for the Arab world.

“Today, the Arab Ummah is experiencing a truly black day due to the fact that [U.S. President Donald] Trump has already announced the recognition of the sovereignty of the state of Israel over the Golan Heights,” Aoun said while speaking at the Russian lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma, in Moscow.

He said foreign leaders have no right to make decisions on other countries’ territories.

“In addition […] such steps are contrary to the international law and the decisions of the UN security Council,” the Lebanese president added.

* Elena Teslova in Moscow contributed to this story.

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