Following Jerusalem, is Golan Heights next?
This post has been updated
WASHINGTON – After US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, 22 years after Congress originally passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, we asked Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer whether the Golan Heights should be next? Dermer replied that the Golan Heights is an “issue that we’ve raised many times. We think all governments should recognize our sovereignty there. So yes, the answer for that would be yes. Maybe we’ll have another historic day during the Trump Presidency. We’ll see. Meanwhile, we should all appreciate what happened Wednesday.”
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war. In 1981, the Israeli parliament voted to annex the territory. However, Washington, along with the rest of the international community, declined to recognize Israel’s sovereignty and considers the land “occupied territories.” In his announcement on Wednesday, President Trump justified his changed attitude towards Jerusalem saying that the US was merely “recognizing reality,” but he has yet to adopt the same policy towards the Golan Heights.
Trump stressed that the US is “not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
Dermer, however, did not show any ambiguity regarding the fate of the holy city. “Israel’s position is very clear: a united Jerusalem under Israel’s sovereignty,” he said.
The Florida native rejected arguments that Trump’s declaration would undermine peace negotiations, while taking a swipe at the previous administration. “You should ask some of the people who told you that this would undermine peace whether they think that what President Obama did in May 2011, when he said that the Palestinian state should be based on the 1967 lines plus swaps, undermines peace? That border issue is a matter of dispute and a point of negotiations between the parties so the Obama administration was putting its thumb on the scale and moving the goalposts. That undermined peace.”
Dermer added, “The fact that Israel will have a capital in Jerusalem is ostensibly not a point of dispute between the parties, not even according to the Palestinian Authority’s stated public positions. And the US did not say there were deciding the boundaries of Jerusalem, which they said would be up to the parties. So here, the US did not move goal posts on negotiation but are righting a historic wrong, puncturing the campaign to deny Jewish history and claims in Jerusalem and laying a cornerstone for a peace based on truth.”
Correction: A prior version of this article mistakenly ran the headline that “Following Jerusalem, Dermer calls on Trump to recognize Israeli control over Golan.” The headline was unclear. We regret this error. Ambassador Dermer was responding to our reporter’s question. The reporter asked, “Are you calling on the US to also recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel?” Ambassador Dermer answered: “That’s an issue that we’ve raised many times. We think governments should recognize. That’s an issue that has actually come up before. So yes, the answer for that would be yes. Maybe we’ll have another historic day during the Trump Presidency. We’ll see. Meanwhile, we should all appreciate what happened Wednesday.”