Responding to comments by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken concerning Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the territory seized from Syria in 1967 will always be part of Israel.
“The Golan Heights has been and will continue to be a part of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday. “With an agreement or without an agreement, we are not leaving the Golan. It will remain under the sovereignty of the State of Israel.”
When asked on Monday if the new Biden administration will continue recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, Blinken said he believes Israeli control of the area is important, but appeared to question the legality of the situation.
“Look, leaving aside the legalities of that question, as a practical matter, the Golan is very important to Israel’s security,” Blinken said. He said as long as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is “in power” in Syria” as a practical matter, the control of the Golan in that situation I think remains of real importance to Israel’s security.”
Blinken did suggest that if there is a change in the Syrian government, the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights could be reexamined. “Legal questions are something else. And over time, if the situation were to change in Syria, that’s something we’d look at,” he said.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981, which was not internationally recognized. In 2019, the Trump administration formally recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.