Reacting to Monday’s comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House ruled out calls to formally recognize the Israeli occupation and subsequent annexation of the Golan Heights away from Syria, saying they weren’t sure if Netanyahu was even serious but that the US had no intention of changing its position on the occupation.
Israel captured the Golan Heights militarily in 1967, and annexed it in 1981, though that annexation is not internationally recognized, Israel has been reported to have talked with Syria in the past about returning the territory in return for a peace deal, though Netanyahu suggested Monday that the ongoing Syrian Civil War means Israel should just get to keep the heights forever.
White House officials also warned that the move “complicates” the their involvement in the Syrian War, putting the US-backed rebels in an “awkward position” and opening them up to charges they are part of a plot to abandon the recovery of Golan by Syria.
Israel’s policy has shifted in recent years to suggest they are ditching all pretense of ever returning the Golan Heights, opening up the territory to oil drilling by Israeli companies, a sort of long-term investment which would be unthinkable if the territory is still potentially to be returned to Syria.
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