Mount Hermon is seen in the background as Israeli soldiers travel on mobile artillery units after an exercise in the Golan Heights, February 2013.
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Republican members of Congress have introduced a bill that would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The bill has no Democratic cosponsors and has not received the backing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – nor of the Trump administration, which remained silent on the bill on Wednesday.
But Israeli officials in recent months have pushed for US recognition of sovereignty over the territory, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967, ever since US President Donald Trump took the step of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital one year ago. Already in 2017, during this first visit to Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked both US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.
Trump administration officials have privately asked their Israeli counterparts to quiet the lobbying campaign. But GOP members of Congress have now taken up the mantle, pushing forward with a bicameral bill despite Democratic control in the House.
Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin put forward the measure, stating: “The United States has been committed for over 40 years to ensuring Israel’s security from attacks emanating from across the Golan Heights. The threat Iran poses to America and Israel requires acknowledging the reality of Israel’s control over the territory as a matter of national security.”
The bill asserts that it is in the country’s national security interest to ensure that the Golan Heights region remains out of Syrian hands, and that US recognition could serve as punishment to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus for his war crimes.
A US official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the United States policy on sovereignty over the Golan Heights remains unchanged.
The Republican senators have raised the issue of Golan sovereignty just a few weeks before the United Nations Human Rights Council is set to approve a resolution that condemns Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights.
The UNHRC and the UN General Assembly have routinely called for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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