Trump: 'The Golan Heights are Israeli'. UN and Church of the Holy Land: 'Respect the Treaties'

With a tweet, the US president states that "the time has come" to recognize Israel's "sovereignty" over the Golan Heights. A gift to Netanyahu ahead of the April 9 elections. Russia and Syria condemn "irresponsible" statement and "contempt" of law. Vicar of Jerusalem: "We respect" the position of the United Nations, we need "broad agreement".


Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - For Syria and Russia this is an "irresponsible" declaration and without any legal basis; the United Nations calls for respect for international law which, still today, considers Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights to be "illegal". And the Catholic Church in the Holy Land also speaks of a "political question" and calls for "respect" for what is provided by UN treaties. 24 hours later, the controversy over the umpteenth tweet of US President Donald Trump in which the White House tenant recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Heights is mounting.

The clash with Damascus on the Golan Heights began in June 1967 when during the Arab-Israeli "Six Days" war resulted in Israel occupying the hills that towered over Lake Tiberias, the main water reservoir of the country. In 1973 Syria tried to reconquer the area in vain; since the signing of the armistice control is entrusted to a UN mission, but in 1981 Israel decided - in violation of international law - to annex an area of ​​strategic importance, offering citizenship to the Arab populations (mostly Druze).

"After 52 years - writes Trump - it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights". A short, clear note that looks very much like an electoral advert for outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ahead of the 9 April political elections in which the prime minister is looking for a fifth term. According to analysts and experts, the stance is the result of days of intense private talks between the US administration and the Middle Eastern ally.

Trump's move on the Golan follows the previous choices of the Republican administration which  - unilaterally and in violation of international treaties - recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the transfer of the embassy. A recognition that it was in the air given the choice, in the annual report of the US State Department on human rights, to define "controlled territories" and not "occupied" by Israel the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza.

In comments to AsiaNews, Mgr. Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, patriarchal vicar of Jerusalem, speaks of a "purely political issue", concerning which "we respect" the position established by "international statutes and bodies such as the UN and the European Union". The definition, adds the prelate, remains that of "occupied territories" and there can be no unilateral changes "without a broader agreement". This affair, he continues, "will perhaps have repercussions for the Golan Heights, but there will be no major implications for the rest of the country. There may be reactions, but not disproportionate, also because we have known the position of the State of Israel on the Heights for years" and which is recognized by Trump in his message.

In these hours the decision of the US president has provoked very hard responses from Damascus and Moscow, while the United Nations has reminded all that the Israeli occupation is and remains "illegal" according to international law. Spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova describes a violation of the UN resolutions for a decision taken "bypassing" the Security Council. Russia’s position on Israel's decision to "extend" sovereignty over the Golan Heights remains "unchanged" and "contrary".

Along the same lines, the Syrian government described the words of President Trump as "irresponsible" and "in blatant violation of international law", adding he has adopted a policy of "blind obedience" to Israel. Finally, Damascus speaks of the United States "contempt" for law and confirms that it intends to regain control of the area "with all available means".

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