Syria requests UN Security Council meeting on Golan

Israeli soldiers close the gate as UN forces drive through the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights on the border line between Israel and Syria, October 15, 2018. — Reuters pic
Israeli soldiers close the gate as UN forces drive through the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights on the border line between Israel and Syria, October 15, 2018. — Reuters pic

UNITED NATIONS, March 27 — Syria asked the United Nations Security Council yesterday to hold an urgent meeting on the US decision to recognise the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation Monday in which the United States recognised 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.”

The French presidency did not immediately schedule the meeting and diplomats said there would be a discussion at the council about the request.

On Friday, Syria wrote a separate letter urging the council to uphold resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from the Golan.

The council is scheduled to discuss the latest crisis today during a meeting on renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force deployed between Israel and Syria in the Golan, known as UNDOF.

Five European countries with seats on the council earlier rejected 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 recognised 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 destabilising presence of Iran in the region,” said 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. — AFP