US won't recognize Israeli rule over Golan

Obama administration rejects Netanyahu's proposal, claims recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Golan will undermine US relations in Syria.

Cynthia Blank ,

Netanyahu visits Golan Heights
Netanyahu visits Golan Heights
Flash 90

Washington will not accept Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's proposal to discuss the possibility of the US recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a senior White House official told Haaretz on Thursday. 

According to the official, Netanyahu made the suggestion while meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, citing instability in Syria and Jerusalem's fear of growing Iranian control in the country. 

“We were talking about Syria and Netanyahu said he had nothing to do with the domestic situation in the country, and that he cared about [preventing] the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah and [the creation] of a second front in the Golan by Iran and Hezbollah,” the official said.

“And then he said almost in passing that one way to do it would be to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan… because under these conditions Israel will not give it back to Syria."

The official noted that Netanyahu did not delve into further details, but that Obama - justifiably - did not respond. 

“I think the president didn’t think it warranted an answer. It wasn’t clear how serious he [Netanyahu] was about it. I think that it was clear the US is not going to change its position about the future of the Golan. We always said it has to be negotiated in line with [UN Security Council resolutions] 242 and 338. This has been and remains our position and it will not change,” the official explained.

Another US official suggested the Obama adminstration's objection to recognizing Israeli rule over the Golan stems from its policy on Syria and particularly its support of opposition forces. 

The proposal to shift Washington’s position on the Golan Heights “complicates the strategy on Syria by putting the opposition in Syria that we are supporting in a very awkward position,” the White House official argued.

“If there is any indication that the US position on the Golan is changing it would make our relations with the opposition complicated, and it will expose the opposition to regime accusations that they are allies with people who want to give up the Golan."

"I don’t think it makes political sense and it is not necessary because there is no prospect of Syria-Israeli negotiation for the foreseeable future. So it’s unwarranted and counterproductive,” the official added.