Jerusalem, 10 Rajab 1437/18 April 2016 (MINA) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to the occupied Golan Heights on Sunday to declare that Israel will retain full control of the mountainous plateau forever and will never return the strategic highlands to neighboring Syria.
As talks on the future of Syria are underway in Geneva, Netanyahu convened a symbolic meeting of his cabinet on a mountaintop in the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.
In a lead-up to the Geneva talks, representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signaled that they wanted the discussions to include a possible return of the region.
Netanyahu was having none of it, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) reported, quoting The Washington Post as reporting.
“The time has come after 40 years for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain forever under Israeli sovereignty,” he said.
Whatever the outcome of the peace talks, he added, “the border will not change.”
Israel essentially annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 when it extended Israeli civil law — versus military rule — to the territory.
The international community, including the United States, has never recognized Israel’s annexation of the heights and views the plateau as Syrian territory occupied by Israel.
Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said his country would retake the Golan Heights — by force if necessary.
“All options are on the table for getting back the occupied territory from Israel,” Mekdad told the Beirut-based al-Mayadeen news channel, according to a report in the Times of Israel.
“We are prepared to do anything in order to return the Golan to the Syrian motherland, including using military force.”
Syria’s Foreign Ministry complained to the U.N. Security Council about Netanyahu’s cabinet meeting, calling it “reckless” and “provocative.” (T/R07/R01)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency(MINA)