8495th Security Council Meeting: Situation in the Middle East; Golan Heights

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27-Mar-2019 01:59:54
Security Council members regret decision by United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over occupied Syrian Golan at 8495th meeting.

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Unilateral Moves Doomed to Fail, Says France, as Others Decry Forcible Annexation

Most Security Council members expressed regret today over the decision by the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian Golan, stressing the importance of upholding international law, as the 15-member organ heard briefings on the situation in that occupied territory.

France’s delegate emphasized that any attempt to move away from international law and Council resolutions through unilateral decisions “is doomed to failure”, expressing regret that the move by the United States undermines collective Council action.

The United Kingdom’s representative said that her delegation’s position — that the Golan is territory occupied by Israel — remains unchanged, affirming her country’s belief in the rules-based international order.

Poland’s delegate said that the European Union’s position on the Golan is that Israel’s forcible annexation of the territory is illegal under international law, including the Charter of the United Nations and Council resolution 497 (1981).

However, the representative of the United States insisted that the decision by his country’s Government neither affects the 1974 Disengagement Agreement, nor undermines UNDOF’s mandate. Rather, it is of critical security and strategic importance to Israel, he added. He called upon the Russian Federation to use its influence over the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to compel his forces to withdraw immediately from the Area of Separation. Expressing alarm at the presence of Hizbullah there, he emphasized that there can be no chance for peace between Syria and Israel with the Lebanese group present.

His counterpart from the Russian Federation criticized the proclamation by the United States, emphasizing that the unilateral decision does not change the territory’s legal situation but only exacerbates the situation.

Also participating in the meeting were the representatives of Syria and Israel. Syria’s delegate rejected “the illegal statement” by the United States, emphasizing that the unilateral behaviour by that country has neither legal nor moral value. World public opinion is isolating the United States and Israel, he added.

Israel’s representative said the United States recognized what has been true for 52 years and urged other Member States to follow suit. He added that from the moment of Israel’s founding, the Syrian regime has maintained a policy of aggression with the goal of wiping his country off the map. “Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is forever,” he declared, adding that international recognition of that would ensure regional security and stability.

Briefing the Council earlier, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, recalled that during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Syrian Arab Army crossed the 1967 ceasefire line on the Golan — known as the Purple Line — initially gaining territory. In a swift counter-attack, however, the Israeli Defence Forces re-captured the lost ground and advanced further, crossing the 1967 ceasefire line and occupying a salient portion of Syrian territory.

Noting President Donald Trump’s official proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan, she said the position of the United Nations on the territory is clear in the relevant Council and General Assembly resolutions, notably Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 497 (1981). “We hope that the recent developments will not be used as an excuse by anyone to pursue actions that could undermine the relative stability of the situation on the Golan and beyond,” she stressed.

Also briefing was Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, who reported that the ceasefire has held despite numerous violations of the 1974 Disengagement Agreement. The firing of missiles, rockets and other heavy weaponry on 29 November, 20 January and 11 February illustrates the continuing risk of escalating the situation in UNDOF’s area of operation, he cautioned, urging Council members to support efforts to ensure that the two sides as well as regional stakeholders clearly understand the risks and the need to preserve the long-standing ceasefire.

Also speaking were representatives of Kuwait, Peru, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Germany, South Africa, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and Indonesia.

The meeting began at 5:37 p.m. and ended at 7:37 p.m.

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