Israel’s Cabinet convened its weekly meeting atop the Golan Heights on Sunday so that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could pointedly inform the world that, in light of the current situation in the region, there is no chance Israel will ever return the strategic plateau to Syrian control.
“The time has come for the world to recognize our sovereignty here,” said Netanyahu.
The Israeli leader made similar remarks recently to US Secretary of State John Kerry, whom Netanyahu told, “We will not come down from the Golan Heights. The international community needs to accept this.”
The statement comes amid mounting assessments that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will survive the ongoing civil war and maintain power in Damascus, largely thanks to the assistance of Iran and Russia.
For nearly 20 years the Golan Heights was used as a platform to launch attacks on the Galilee region, before being captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
Israel officially annexed the Golan in 1981, but came under heavy American pressure in the 1990s to relinquish control as a first step toward making peace with Syria and the broader Arab world.
Had Israel succumbed to that pressure, its northern towns and cities would today be under tremendous and sustained threat from groups like ISIS and the various Al Qaeda-affiliated gangs fighting in Syria.