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.



Yemen's Houthis Say to Escalate Military Operations in Support of Gaza

A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
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Yemen's Houthis Say to Escalate Military Operations in Support of Gaza

A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)

Yemen's Houthis will continue their military operations and escalate them "in quality and quantity" in support of Palestinians in Israel's war in Gaza, the Iran-backed group's leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a televised speech on Thursday, Reuters reported.

The group have been attacking ships in the Red Sea region since November, forcing shippers to re-route cargo to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa.

The group later expanded the scope of its attacks to the Indian Ocean and said it would also target any ships heading towards Israeli ports in the Mediterranean Sea.