Muslim world denounces US recognition of Golan Heights as Israeli territory

US President Donald Trump (left) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu display the signed Presidential proclamation recognising Golan Heights as Israeli territory, in Washington, DC on March 25, 2019.
US President Donald Trump (left) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu display the signed Presidential proclamation recognising Golan Heights as Israeli territory, in Washington, DC on March 25, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

CAIRO (REUTERS, AFP) - Saudi Arabia led the Muslim world's denounciation of US President Donald Trump's recognition of Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights on Tuesday (March 26).

A statement released by the Saudi Press Agency said: "Attempts to impose fait accompli do not change the facts."

It said the Golan Heights was an "occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions".

"It will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region," it said.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit echoed the Saudi statement, saying on Monday the decision does not change the area's status, according to a statement published by Egypt's state news agency MENA.

Syria reacted swiftly to Trump's proclamation, calling it a"blatant attack" on its sovereignty and territorial integrity and saying it had a right to reclaim the Golan.

Trump, with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking over his shoulder during a visit to Washington, signed a proclamation on Monday officially granting US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.


Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognised internationally.

The Saudi Press Agency report described Monday's declaration as a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "clear that the status of Golan has not changed," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"The UN's policy on Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and that policy has not changed," Dujarric said.

A UN Security Council resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member body in 1981 declared that Israel's "decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect." It also demanded Israel rescind its decision.

Nato ally Turkey termed the US recognition unacceptable and said it would take action against it, including at the United Nations, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Lebanon said the move "violates all the rules of international law" and "undermines any effort to reach a just peace".

"The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another," the Lebanese foreign ministry said.

In South-east Asia, Indonesia said it firmly rejects Trump's move. "This recognition is not conducive to efforts towards creating peace and regional stability," said Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

The negative reactions reprised last week's response to Trump's tweet announcing the move.

The announcement triggered direct or implied criticism from European as well as Middle Eastern countries and organizations, including Britain, Germany, France, the European Union, Turkey, Egypt, the Arab League and Russia.

Elsewhere in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), a pro-Israel group, held its annual meeting with speaker after speaker expressing US support for strong ties with the country.

"We stand with Israel because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight," Vice-President Mike Pence said on Monday.

Pence also talked tough against Iran, saying that under Trump, "America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon."

Netanyahu challenger Benny Gantz appeared before the gathering, and vowed to protect his country against threats from Iran and Syria. He called for unity in Israel.

"We must remember if that we want hope, we must have unity,"he said. With election day approaching, opinion polls put Netanyahu's right-wing Likud and Gantz's centrist Blue and White party neck and neck.