Roundup: Security Council members regret U.S. decision on Golan Heights

Most United Nations (UN) Security Council members, on Wednesday, expressed regret over the decision by the United States to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The 15-member council held a meeting and heard briefings on the situation in the occupied territory in the afternoon at the request of Syria.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, recalled that during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Syrian Arab Army crossed the 1967 ceasefire line on Golan, known as the Purple Line, initially gaining territory.

In a swift counter-attack, however, the Israeli Defense Forces re-captured the lost ground and advanced further, crossing the ceasefire line and occupying a salient portion of Syrian territory, she added.

After U.S. President Donald Trump’s proclamation on Monday to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the UN Secretary-General has taken note of member states’ reactions to the decision, she said.

The UN position on Golan is clear in the relevant Council and General Assembly resolutions, notably in Council resolutions 242 and 497, she said.

“We hope that the recent developments will not be used as an excuse by anyone to pursue actions that could undermine the relative stability of the situation on the Golan and beyond,” she added.

Except for the United States, all the other 14 members in the meeting expressed regret on the decision.

France’s deputy permanent representative to the UN Anne Gueguen said any attempt to move away from international law and Council resolutions through unilateral decisions “is doomed to failure,” expressing regret that the move by the United States undermines collective Council action.

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The European Union’s position on Golan is that Israel’s forcible annexation of the territory is illegal under international law, including the UN Charter and Council resolution 497, said Joanna Wronecka, Polish ambassador to the UN.

British Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce affirmed her country’s belief in the rules-based international order.

Wu Haitao, the deputy permanent representative of the Chinese mission to the UN, said China is opposed to the alteration of the fact through unilateral action, and that China does not wish to see the further escalation of tensions in the region.

The parties concerned should implement relevant Security Council resolutions and agreements on disengagement, exercise restraint and desist from any action that may exacerbate tensions along the ceasefire line, said Wu.

However, Political Coordinator of the U.S. Mission to the UN Rodney Hunter insisted that the decision by his country’s government neither affects the 1974 Disengagement Agreement between Israel and Syria nor undermines the UN Disengagement Observer Force’s mandate.

Rather, it is of critical security and strategic importance to Israel, he added. Expressing alarm at the presence of Hizbullah there, he said there can be no chance for peace between Syria and Israel with the Lebanese group present.

Among the participants in the meeting were representatives of Syria and Israel. Syria’s delegate Bashar Ja’afari rejected “the illegal statement” by the United States, emphasizing that the unilateral behaviour has neither legal nor moral value.

World public opinion is isolating the United States and Israel, he added.


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