EU: Golan Heights do not belong to Israel

Published 21.04.2016 00:32
Updated 21.04.2016 00:33
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, poses with ministers prior to the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israel-controlled Golan Heights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, poses with ministers prior to the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israel-controlled Golan Heights.

After the U.S., Germany and the Arab League, the European Union has said it does not recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel although Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, however, vowed that the region will remain Israel's forever

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini stressed that the European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the annexed territory would "forever" remain in his country's hands. "The EU recognizes Israel within its pre-1967 borders, whatever the government's claims on other areas, until a final settlement is concluded," Mogherini said. "And this is a common consolidated position of the European Union and its member states," she added ahead of a meeting in Brussels for international donors supporting the Palestinian economy. Netanyahu's cabinet on Sunday held its first meeting in the Golan Heights, territory seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. "The Golan Heights will remain in the hands of Israel forever," Netanyahu said at the start of the cabinet meeting, in comments broadcast on public radio. Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria's envoy to the United Nations, denounced the meeting as an "irresponsible provocation", while Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi called it an "escalation". Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War and later annexed it, a move never recognized by the international community.

Not only the EU but also Arab League, Germany and the U.S. rejected that Golan belongs to Israel. On Monday, the U.S. said that it does not recognize Golan as part of Israel. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the Obama administration does not consider the Golan Heights to be part of Israel. "The U.S. position on the issue is unchanged," Kirby said at a daily media briefing at the State Department in Washington. "This position was maintained by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Those territories are not part of Israel and the status of those territories should be determined through negotiations." German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said "it's a basic principle of international law and the U.N. charter that no state can claim the right to annex another state's territory just like that." Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, the secretary general of the pan-Arab bloc headquartered in Cairo, said Netanyahu's statement "was a new escalation that represents a brazen violation of international law."

Moreover, most of the EU countries have recognized the Palestinian state despite Israel's objections. Regarding international support for Palestinian statehood in the international arena, more than 130 countries have already symbolically recognized Palestine. However the European Union has not yet given it official recognition. Sweden is the only European country that officially recognizes Palestinian statehood. The also EU has decided not to allow goods produced in settlements in the occupied West Bank to be labeled 'Made in Israel.'

During the attacks on Gaza in 2014, more than 2,200 Palestinians including hundreds of civilians were killed and over 11,000 Palestinians were injured. According to the U.N. and Palestinian officials 73 Israelis, the vast majority of whom were military personnel, were killed. More than 500,000 Palestinians were displaced in the conflict, the U.N. said. Another finding was that at least 100,000 Gazans became homeless. The Gaza Health Ministry said that 2,310 Palestinians were killed, 70 percent of them civilians. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 65 percent of casualties were civilians. But the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that 2,125 Palestinians were killed and 36 percent of them were civilians. According to Israeli officials, 44 percent of casualties were militants and 20 percent were males aged 16 to 50. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) reported that 1,226 Palestinian's under the age of 15 were taken into custody by Israeli forces. According to the PLO, 200 of them are still in prison. The number of arrests of children in Palestine grew 87 percent compared with 2011, the PLO said.

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