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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Golan Heights: Iraqi foreign ministry denounces Donald Trump statement

Trump recognition of Israeli 'sovereignty' over occupied territory sparks anger

An Israeli Merkava Mark 4 tank drives close to livestock during an exercise in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights in 2016. AP
An Israeli Merkava Mark 4 tank drives close to livestock during an exercise in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights in 2016. AP

Iraq's foreign ministry on Saturday said President Donald Trump recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights contravenes international law.

In a series of tweets the Iraqi ministry denounced Israel's occupation of the disputed area. Occupying land, it said, does not give one legitimacy over it.

"Iraq supports UN Security Council resolutions that provide for an end to the occupation," the ministry said.

The statement follows President Trump's unilateral decision on Thursday that the US should recognise Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights.

Mr Trump, who has a penchant for making policy on Twitter, made the announcement on social media, surprising State Department officials.

After 52 year it is time for the United States to fully recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Mr Trump said. "Which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!".

The decision follows a lobbying campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent days, sparking outrage.

On Friday Syria asked the UN Security Council to uphold resolutions declaring that Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights after President Donald Trump said the United States would recognise Israel's annexation of the territory.

Mr Trump's statement showed "the blind bias of the United States" towards Israel, Syrian state media cited a foreign ministry source as saying on Friday.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari urged the council to "take practical measures to ensure that the council is fulfilling ... its mandate in the implementation of its resolutions" concerning the Golan, in a letter seen by AFP.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — fearful of a breakup of Syria under which Kurds could seek independence — said that Mr Trump has created a "new crisis" and called for intervention by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

France's foreign ministry said in a statement that recognising Israeli sovereignty "would be contrary to international law, in particular the obligation for states not to recognise an illegal situation".

The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss the Golan Heights on Wednesday during a meeting on renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force deployed between Israel and Syria in the Golan, known as UNDOF.

Israel conquered the Golan from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and annexed it in 1981, but until now, the international community has not accepted the move, hoping the territory could serve as a bargaining chip in a future peace deal between the countries.

The US backed Resolution 242 adopted in 1967, which calls on Israel to withdraw from territories it occupied during the war and refers to the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war".

The council adopted another resolution in 1973 that reaffirmed the demand for a withdrawal and in 1981, backed a separate measure that rejected Israel's annexation of the Golan.

Updated: March 23, 2019 02:23 PM

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