US Says Not Changing Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty over Golan Heights

The border fence between the Israeli Golan Heights and the Syrian governorate of Quneitra on February 15, 2021. (AFP)
The border fence between the Israeli Golan Heights and the Syrian governorate of Quneitra on February 15, 2021. (AFP)
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US Says Not Changing Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty over Golan Heights

The border fence between the Israeli Golan Heights and the Syrian governorate of Quneitra on February 15, 2021. (AFP)
The border fence between the Israeli Golan Heights and the Syrian governorate of Quneitra on February 15, 2021. (AFP)

The US State Department denied on Friday that the Biden administration is planning to annul its recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

In a tweet, the US State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs said: “US policy regarding the Golan has not changed, and reports to the contrary are false.”

The tweet was in response to a report that said Washington was shifting its policy, sparking uproar in Israel. On Thursday, the Washington Free Beacon wrote in one of its headlines “Biden Admin Walks Back US Recognition of Golan Heights as Israeli Territory.”

It said it has spoken to the US State Department press office, asking for the Biden administration’s position on the Golan Heights.

When asked to clarify the stance on the territory, the State Department official told the Free Beacon that “Secretary of State Antony Blinken was clear that, as a practical matter, the Golan is very important to Israel's security.”

The official added that as long as Bashar al-Assad is in power in Syria, as long as Iran is present in Syria, militia groups backed by Iran, the Assad regime itself—all of these pose a significant security threat to Israel, and as a practical matter, the control of the Golan remains of real importance to Israel's security.

Commenting on those statements, Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev told the Maariv on Friday: “The Golan Heights became no more Israeli because of Trump’s decision, and it will not become less Israeli if the decision is now revoked.”

Barlev denied that the new Israeli government was informed by the US administration that it intends to change its policy on the Golan Heights. “The new government is attached to its political program, which stipulates doubling the number of human settlements in the Heights.”

In a related development, Israeli Channel 13 quoted an Israeli political official as saying that the issue has not been discussed with the Americans and that the Golan Heights should remain under Israeli sovereignty “forever”.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six Day-War in 1967 and annexed it in 1981. It has built dozens of settlements in the area over the years, with an estimated 26,000 Jewish settlers living there as of 2019.



Clashes Escalate in Sudan’s North Darfur

Rapid Support Forces members. (AP)
Rapid Support Forces members. (AP)
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Clashes Escalate in Sudan’s North Darfur

Rapid Support Forces members. (AP)
Rapid Support Forces members. (AP)

Clashes renewed on Monday between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in several locations in North Darfur, while each side claimed to have inflicted the other with heavy losses in lives and military equipment.

Eyewitnesses said fierce ground clashes took place early in the morning in the vicinity of El Fasher, and around the Zarq and Um Baar areas, which are controlled by the RSF.

Meanwhile, residents fear counter-attacks following threats launched by several RSF leaders, who vowed to strongly respond to the killing of Ali Yagoub Gibril, one of their senior commanders during a battle in the besieged north Darfur city of El Fasher last Friday.

Social media accounts affiliated with the RSF posted videos showing violent clashes that took place Monday in the Um Baar area.

The video also showed destroyed military and armored vehicles of the army and the armed movements backing it.

Since the outbreak of fighting in Sudan, the RSF has pushed large numbers of its forces to capture the town of El Fasher. The city is the army's last stronghold in the western Darfur region.

On Sunday, RSF commander Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, also known as Hemedti, blamed the escalation in El Fasher on armed factions “that have abandoned neutrality and chosen to side with their slaughterer.”

A resident of El Fasher said the Eid Al-Adha celebrations were completely absent, and that many residents did not leave their homes to perform religious rituals for fear of bombs targeting residential neighborhoods.