With Bibi at his side, Sen. Graham pushes for Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights
Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO
By Jacob Kornbluh
During a tour of the Golan heights on Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that he will push for the passage of legislation to recognize the Golan “as part of the State of Israel now and forever.” If passed, the bill Sen. Graham co-sponsored with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AK), would alter U.S. policy that any change in control over the Golan Heights would occur in a peace deal between Israel and Syria.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accompanied Sen. Graham on the tour, along with Ambassador David Friedman, thanked the senior Republican lawmaker for his support. “The Golan is part of Israel. The Golan must stay part of Israel forever. I think it’s very important that the international community recognize this fact and accept it, and most especially, our great friend the United States,” Netanyahu said.
Speaking to reporters on the conclusion of the tour, Graham said that the main purpose of the weekend visit to Israel was “to make a statement that from an American point of view, a safe, secure and prosperous Israel is in our national security interest and Israel cannot be safe, secure and prosperous unless it has the Golan.”
Graham added that he’s hoping that the administration will be receptive to the idea. “I’ve been told that in the State Department there’s a map that has the Golan as a disputed area. I’d like to urge president Trump to change that map,” he said. “I’m going to go back and tell the president about my visit.”
Asked if the president could announce such a move before the Israeli election on April 9th — a move that would benefit PM Netanyahu — Graham said: “I don’t know about timing, but I hope he will do it quickly. Everything that we can do we should do, in terms of making statements about Israel.”
“Bibi is a friend. You know, Israel and the United States’ relationship is not based on a person. It’s based on shared values,” Graham explained the timing of his visit. “I expect, hopefully, that this initiative to recognize the Golan as part of Israel wouldn’t be about one person. It’s up to the Israelis to pick their leader. I think the statement that I’m trying to make is that we have no better ally than the state of Israel. The state of Israel is under siege right now, and I don’t know what’s wrong with coming now versus April 10th.”
Kevin Bishop, Sen. Graham’s communications director, told Jewish Insider that Graham hopes to pass the legislation “as soon as possible.”