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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 April 2019

Syria requests UN Security Council meeting on Golan

Golan tensions rise following Trump decision to recognise Israeli annexation of occupied land

A picture taken from the Syrian town Ain al-Tineh shows the Druze town of Majdal Shams in the Israeli- annexed Golan Heights. AFP 
A picture taken from the Syrian town Ain al-Tineh shows the Druze town of Majdal Shams in the Israeli- annexed Golan Heights. AFP 

Syria's mission to the United Nations has asked the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting as tensions over the Golan Heights grow higher.

President Donald Trump on Monday decided to officially recognise Israel's annexation of the strategic plateau, despite UN resolutions that call for Israel's withdrawal from the Golan.

In a letter seen by AFP, the Syrian mission to the United Nations asked the council presidency, held by France, to schedule an urgent meeting to "discuss the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan and the recent flagrant violation of the relevant Security Council's resolution by a permanent member-state."

France has yet to schedule a meeting, and said they would discuss the urgent request at the council.

The council is scheduled to discuss the latest crisis 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.

Arab states, including US ally Saudi Arabia, condemned Mr Trump's move.

The Golan remains "occupied Syrian Arab land" and its recognition as Israeli is a "violation of the UN Charter and international resolutions," the Saudi foreign ministry said while fellow Gulf state called for an end to Israel's occupation for the land.

Iraq said the decision went against international law and undermined UN resolutions.

“We refuse the Zionist capture of the Golan under any pretext,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Hakim said on Twitter.

Any attempts by Israel to expand its territory by way of "force and aggression" would only isolate the Jewish state, said the Lebanese Foreign Ministry.

Five European countries with seats on the council earlier rejected Mr Trump's decision and voiced concern that the US move would have broad consequences in the Middle East.

Two of Washington's closest allies — Britain and France — joined Belgium, Germany and Poland to declare that the European position had not changed and that the Golan remained Israeli-occupied Syrian territory, in line with international law enshrined in UN resolutions.

Three UN Security Council resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from the Golan, which it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981, in a move that was never recognized internationally.

US Acting Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told a council meeting on the Middle East that Washington had made the decision to stand up to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran.

"To allow the Golan Heights to be controlled by the likes of the Syrian and Iranian regimes would turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the Assad regime and malign and destabilizing presence of Iran in the region," said Mr Cohen.

There "can be no peace agreement that does not satisfactorily address Israel's security needs in the Golan Heights," he added.

China and Russia spoke out against the US decision during the council meeting, as did Indonesia and South Africa, two countries that strongly support the Palestinians, along with Kuwait, a US ally in the region.

Updated: March 27, 2019 08:26 AM

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