US no longer recognizes Golan Heights as “occupied” by Israel

The US government no longer characterizes the Golan Heights as “occupied by Israel” in the global human rights report that has been published every year, but the State Department has assured that there is no “change” in Washington’s policy.

The latest version of the US State Department report refers to the Golan Heights as an “Israeli-controlled” area. In another section of the report, on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which were also captured by Israel in 1967, the terms “occupied” or “occupied” are also not mentioned anywhere.

Israel has embarked on intensive lobbying towards the administration of US President Donald Trump so that Washington recognizes Israeli sovereignty at the Golan Heights, which it annexed de facto in 1981. The Israeli government describes these lands as crucial to the defense of the country.

Asked about this change of phraseology, as far from being painless – the issue is extremely thorny in the Middle East – a senior State Department official has told reporters that there is “no change” in our “policy towards these areas and the need for a negotiated solution. ”

However, “this issue is not related to human rights, it is a matter of legal status,” said the official, Michael Kozak. A semantic development had emerged from the previous State Department report in 2018. Then, in the chapter that referred in past years to “Israel and the Occupied Territories,” the title had changed to “Israel, Golan, West Bank and Gaza “, a wording that remained this year.

US President Donald Trump, who reiterates his support for Israel, has also recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the state that is the United States’s closest ally to the region, breaking completely with the decades-long American diplomatic approach and the international consensus, but also provoking the wrath of the Palestinian leaders.

The Israeli army captured much of the Golan Heights in the Six Days War in 1967. The annexation of the region in 1981 was never recognized by the international community.

From a technical point of view, Israel and Syria remain in a state of war since the war of Yom Kippur in 1973. The ceasefire line has long been in relative calm, a situation that has changed radically since the war broke out in Syria in 2011.

Lindsey Graham, an influential US Senator, a close ally of President Trump, assured on Monday, during a visit to the Golan area that has been annexed by Israel, that he is working to make Washington recognize Israeli sovereignty in that particular segment.