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Cruz, Gallagher to introduce bill blocking de-recognition of Israeli authority over Golan

The Biden administration has not indicated that it intends to reverse the decision made by Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights

Michael Brochstein/Sipa via AP

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaking about the For the People Act at a hearing of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on May 11, 2021.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) are set to introduce legislation on Thursday that seeks to block any attempt to withdraw U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Jewish Insider has learned.

Israel has claimed control over the 400 square-mile territory, which lies next to the Syrian border, since the end of the 1967 Six Day War. Syria also claims the territory as its own. For decades, both Republican and Democratic administrations had declined to recognize Israeli authority over the Golan Heights, a policy former President Donald Trump reversed in a March 2019 tweet.

The Cruz-Gallagher bill would bar any attempt by the State Department to “prepare, propose, draft, review or promulgate” any sort of policy move that would affect U.S. recognition.

The Biden administration has not expressed an intent to take any action on the matter.

“As a practical matter, the control of the Golan in that situation I think remains of real importance to Israel’s security,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in February. “Legal questions are something else and over time if the situation were to change in Syria, that’s something we’d look at, but we are nowhere near that.”

While Trump’s decision was praised by GOP lawmakers at the time, the legislation is unlikely to garner Democratic support. In 2019, Cruz and Gallagher attempted to pass a bill codifying U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Neither bill passed out of committee, nor gained any Democratic supporters. Cruz’s bill picked up 24 GOP co-sponsors and Gallagher’s picked up 58.

“The Golan Heights provide Israel with defensible borders and serve as a key buffer between Israel and the chaos in Syria,” Gallagher told Jewish Insider. “At a time when Israel — our most important ally in the Middle East — is literally under attack, we should do everything in our power to ensure they can defend themselves. Ensuring we continue to recognize their sovereignty over the Golan Heights is the most basic way we can do so.”

A congressional aide familiar with the bill echoed Gallagher.

“[Cruz and Gallagher’s] thinking is that the bill serves at least two purposes,” the aide said.  “First, it’s good policy. And second, it sends a badly needed signal of strong U.S. support for Israel while it’s under fire.”