Ever since Donald Trump was defeated by Joe Biden back in November 2020, some Israelis have been antsy over the possibility of the former president’s concessions to the Jewish state being overturned.
As such, when a Washington-based news outlet this month claimed that the Biden Administration was rescinding US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Israelis jumped all over it.
Nearly every mainstream Hebrew-language media outlet covered the story, and at least two cabinet ministers in Israel’s new government issued responses.
In other words, it’s a touchy topic.
Last week, the US State Department sought to put the rumors to rest and ease Israeli concerns. A tweet from the State Department’s Near East Affairs office insisted the US policy regarding the Golan Heights had not changed, and that reports to the contrary were inaccurate.
U.S. policy regarding the Golan has not changed, and reports to the contrary are false.
— U.S. State Dept – Near Eastern Affairs (@StateDept_NEA) June 25, 2021
On Friday, a State Department official reiterated to the Middle East Eye that “our policy on Golan has not changed.”
The reason the issue is still alive is that in a February interview with CNN, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated: “As a practical matter, the Golan is very important to Israel’s security. As long as 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. Legal questions are something else. And over time, if the situation were to change in Syria, that’s something we’d look at.”
This was taken to mean by many that while the Biden Administration supports Israeli control over the Golan under the current circumstances, it does not necessarily recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory.
The recent rebuttals issued by the State Department, however, come across as more definitive. Current US foreign policy as determined by Trump’s executive order is that the Golan Heights constitute a sovereign territory of the State of Israel. And Biden’s State Department affirms that that policy “has not changed.”