Jordanian FM: Israel needs to withdraw from Golan Heights

Jordan’s Foreign Minister rejects Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, says area is “occupied Syrian territory”.

Elad Benari,

Ayman Safadi
Ayman Safadi
Reuters

Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, on Tuesday rejected Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, describing the area as “occupied Syrian territory” and demanding that Israel withdraw its forces.

Safadi's comments came during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who landed in Amman on Tuesday on the first leg of his Middle East tour.

“The Golan Heights are occupied Syrian territory. International law is clear on that. It has to be treated as such,” Safadi told reporters, according to The National.

“Therefore, our position is that Israel needs to withdraw from that territory in the framework of a peace agreement,” he added.

Safadi’s comments come two days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked the United States to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Netanyahu’s request came during a meeting with US National Security Adviser, John Bolton.

Israel captured most of the Golan Heights from Syria during the June 1967 Six Day War. While Israel ceded a portion of the Golan Heights as part of a separate of forces agreement with Syria following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Jewish state has retained roughly two-thirds of the Heights.

In 1981, the Menachem Begin government applied Israeli sovereignty over the Golan – a move not internationally recognized, including by the US.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the Israel Hayom newspaper in September of 2018 that he expected the Golan Heights to remain under Israeli control "forever," and mentioned the possibility of US official recognition of the Golan as Israeli territory.

However, Bolton said a month earlier that there were no US plans for such recognition.

Jordan is one of two Arab countries, along with Egypt, to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.

Despite the fact that Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel, the country’s parliament, which is made up mostly of Islamists, remains anti-Israel and its members have more than once called to annul the peace treaty.

The kingdom last week reaffirmed its commitment to the peace treaty with Israel, in the wake of an incident in which a Jordanian minister was pictured stepping on an image of the Israeli flag while entering a meeting.

In October, Safadi said Jordan’s commitment to uphold the peace treaty with Israel was not in question, despite its decision to end the lease of the lands in Naharayim and Tzofar that were leased to Israel as part of the peace agreement.




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