Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and US President Donald Trump hold up the signed proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights as Netanyahu leaves the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (MANUEL BALCE CENETA / AP)
UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON/KUWAIT CITY/AMMAN — The UN policy on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights remains unchanged despite the Trump administration's recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the territory, a UN spokesman said Monday.
US President Donald Trump on Monday signed a proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the territory that Israel seized from Syria in 1967 and annexed it in 1981.
For the secretary-general, it is clear that the status of the Golan has not changed. The UN's policy on the Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and that policy, again, has not changed.
Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
"This was a long time in the making," Trump said before signing the decree at the White House with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing alongside, who called the recognition "historic."
The proclamation read that it is "appropriate to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights" because of the security need of Israel.
Asked about UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' reaction to the US move and whether it was a contravention of the UN Charter and of relevant Security Council resolutions concerning the Golan, Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN chief's position on this issue remains unchanged.
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"For the secretary-general, it is clear that the status of the Golan has not changed. The UN's policy on the Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and that policy, again, has not changed," Dujarric told a daily press briefing.
Israel seized the Golan Heights in the third Middle East war in 1967 and annexed it in the 1980s, but the international community never recognized the move.
UN Security Council Resolution 497, adopted unanimously in December 1981, decided that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is "null and void and without international legal effect."
This AFP graphic shows a map locating the Golan Heights.
Opposition from global community
Trump's move was widely seen as a valuable and timely political asset for Netanyahu, who is seeking to be re-elected for a fifth term in the April elections but faces a tough fight from Israel's former Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz and a series of allegations over fraud and bribery.
However, the decision immediately drew broad opposition from the international community.
In protest, Syria's Foreign Ministry called the recognition a "blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Syria, state news agency SANA reported.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said Trump's proclamation is void and a blatant violation of the international law.
Druze men with a Syrian flag attend a rally near the Syrian border in Majdal Shams against US President Donald Trump's move to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Israeli-Controlled Golan Heights, March 23, 2019. (ARIEL SCHALIT / AP)
In a phone conversation with US State Secretary Mike Pompeo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said the recognition would lead to the violation of international law, adding that the move would impede the settlement of the Syrian crisis and aggravate the situation throughout the Middle East.
Separately, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that the US move would further increase tension in the region by preventing peace efforts in the Middle East.
Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah also noted the move would cause more tension in the peace process.
Over in Jordan, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that the country rejects any decision that recognizes the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. Attaining peace in the Middle East requires ending the occupation of the Arab territories including the Golan heights, he noted.
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