A MAN stands at Mount Bental, an observation post on the Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, on January 21..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BEIRUT, March 22 - The Syrian government, and many other foreign powers, condemned on Friday US President Donald Trump's statement that it was time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and said Syria was determined to recover the area "through all available means."
Trump tweeted on Thursday it was time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
In a statement published by the Syrian state news agency, a foreign ministry source said Trump's statement showed "the blind bias of the United States" towards Israel.
It did not change "the reality that the Golan was and will remain Syrian, Arab," the source said.
"The Syrian nation is more determined to liberate this precious piece of Syrian national land through all available means," the source said, adding that Trump's statement was "irresponsible" and showed "contempt" for international law.
The European Union underlined it does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights on Friday after Trump moved to do so for the territory viewed by European allies as occupied.
"The position of the EU has not changed," an EU spokeswoman told Reuters. "The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights and does not consider them to be part of Israel's territory."
The Golan Heights is Syrian territory occupied by Israel, a German government spokeswoman said on Friday when asked about Trump's call to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the strategic territory.
"If national borders should be changed it must be done through peaceful means between all those involved," spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
"The government rejects unilateral steps."
Trump's statement that it was time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights has brought the region to the edge of a new crisis, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said today.
In a speech at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Erdogan said, "we cannot allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights."
The Kremlin said there was a hope that Trump's call to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would remain just a call, and not be enacted.
"It is just a call for now. Let's hope it will remain a call," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call. He also said such calls risk seriously destabilizing the Middle East and harm efforts to find a peace settlement in the region.
Russia's Foreign Ministry claims that a change in the status of the Golan Heights would be a direct violation of United Nations decisions, RIA news agency said in a report citing ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Egypt said on Friday it considers the Golan Heights as occupied Syrian land.
In a statement carried by state news agency MENA, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry cited U.N. Security Council resolution 497 of 1981 which rejected Israel's annexation of the territory.
The ministry "stressed the importance that everybody should respect the resolutions of international legitimacy and the United Nations Charter in respect of the inadmissibility of acquiring land by force," the statement said.
The Gulf Cooperation Council regional group of six Arab monarchies expressed regret at Trump's call over the Golan Heights.
Trump's statement "will not change the reality that (...) the Arab Golan Heights is Syrian land occupied by Israel by military force in 1967," said Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the GCC secretary general. "The statements by the American president undermine the chances of achieving a just and comprehensive peace."
France does not recognize the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and its recognition - as called for by Trump - is contrary to international law, its foreign ministry said on Friday.
"The Golan is a territory occupied by Israel since 1967. France does not recognize the Israeli annexation of 1981," the ministry said in a daily briefing, adding that U.N. Security Council resolutions had recognized the annexation as null and void.
"The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, occupied territory, would be contrary to international law, in particular the obligation for states not to recognize an illegal situation," the ministry also said.
Trump's statement in favor of recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights is unacceptable, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday, cited by state TV.
"This illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it belongs to Syria," spokesman Bahram Qasemi said.
Trump said on Thursday it was time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that Israel seized from Syria in 1967, marking a dramatic shift in US policy and giving a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the middle of his re-election campaign.
The disputed area was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.
Netanyahu has pressed the United States to recognize its claim and raised that possibility in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017.
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