U.S. to oppose United Nations motion condemning Israeli control of Golan Heights

JALAA MAREY

The US will oppose for the first time a United Nations resolution that calls for Israel to end its occupation of the Golan Heights, in a symbolic move on an issue that Israel has been lobbying hard for since Donald Trump entered office.

Despite the unprecedented move by the U.S., the resolution passed with 151 in favor, two against (Israel and the US) and 14 abstentions, one of nine anti-Israel resolutions passed by the world body in one day. In September, US Ambassador David Friedman said he expected Israel to hold on to the Golan in perpetuity, though Trump's national security adviser John Bolton said there would be no change in the US position for now.

The U.S. voted to abstain last year, but this year voted no, along with Israel, and cited the resolution's anti-Israel bias, the militarization of the Syrian Golan border, and a worsening humanitarian crisis as reasons for the change in the vote.

On Friday, Dannon was defiant and told the committee that Israel will not withdraw from the area: "Israel will not withdraw from the Golan Heights, it is time the global community accepts it". "Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone".

USA envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley said Washington will no longer abstain in the vote, describing the resolution as useless. Haley's statement drew praise from Israeli officials. The destructive influence of the Iranian regime inside Syria presents major threats to worldwide security.

Israel occupied the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War, capturing it from Syria.

He added that he expects the Golan Heights to remain under Israeli control "forever", saying that he "cannot imagine a situation" in which the area is returned to Syria. "And this resolution does nothing to bring any parties closer to a peace agreement", Haley added.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon welcomed the USA move and called it "another testament to the strong cooperation between the two countries".

In fact, the UN General Assembly Special Political and Decolonization Committee - known as the Fourth Committee - is set to adopt nine resolutions on Friday against Israel, zero against any other nation.

The non-binding resolution is voted on every year by the UN General Assembly's Third Committee. It annexed the territory in 1981, a move not recognised internationally.

In thanking Haley, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said it was high time for the rest of the world to join Trump's America in distinguishing "between those who stabilize the region and those who sow terror".

"I've heard the idea being suggested but there's no discussion of it, no decision within the United States government", Bolton reportedly said during his visit to Israel this week.

Israel has reportedly pressed the White House in recent months to recognize the Golan annexation, arguing that the bloody civil war in Syria undergirded Israeli claims that the plateau is critical to maintaining security.

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