US Declares West Bank and Golan No Longer “Occupied Territories”

Thursday, March 14, 2019 |  David Lazarus

US President Donald Trump’s State Department has called the Golan Heights “Israeli-controlled territory” in its annual human rights report for 2018, which was released this week. All previous administrations refused to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan, and consistently referred to the area as “occupied territory.”

In addition, the report does not refer to the “West Bank” and Gaza Strip as “occupied” or “under occupation,” language used by all US administrations in reference to Judea and Samaria and all the territories, including Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Israel officially annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, though the international community has yet to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the area. Much of the Golan is populated by Druze communities some of whom have proved to be model citizens of the Jewish nation and even serve in the IDF diligently to protect their adopted homeland.

Ongoing clashes just over the border in war-torn Syria and the military build-up of Iranian forces there have made it obvious to observers taht Israel can never leave the Golan Heights.

Just this week, leading Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham visited the Golan with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to discuss plans toward official US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the plateau as a crucial, strategic and permanent part of the Jewish state. “Working with Sen. Ted Cruz, I will start an effort to recognize the Golan as part of the State of Israel now and forever,” Graham said during the visit. “Israel occupied this territory by fighting for its survival. This territory was taken by military force because it was used as a launching point to attack the State of Israel. This territory has a rich Jewish history," Graham declared.

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