Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the Trump tower.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use his upcoming meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump to pursue formal US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren (Kulanu) told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
Israel took the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six Day War, and in 1981 extended Israeli law to the region, thereby de facto annexing it. The US has not recognized the Golan as Israeli territory, holding that its status should be determined in negotiations between Israel and Syria.
“It’s very important for the US to back a formal recognition of Israel’s control of the Golan,” Oren said. "If it weren’t for Israel’s presence, the Syria war would be spilling over to Jordan. So Israel’s presence in the Golan is indispensable for Mideast stability.”
Netanyahu visited the Golan Heights in April, declaring that Israel would never leave the strategic region
. “The time has come for the international community to recognize reality,” Netanyahu said at the time. “First, that whatever will be on the other side of the border, the border will not change. And secondly,” Netanyahu added, “the time has come after 40 years for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain forever under Israeli sovereignty.”
Oren, who turned down an offer to meet Trump to discuss Israel in June
during the presidential campaign, so as not to appear to be meddling in the election, told Bloomberg that he suggested to Netanyahu that he raise the subject of the Golan with the president-elect.
Bloomberg quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying the possible repercussions of US recognition of Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights were already being explored.
Oren said that the Jewish people have deep roots in the Golan, as is evidenced by the 34 ancient synagogues discovered there. "This was always part of the land of Israel. So let us extend our sovereignty in a formal way," he said.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.