On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation unilaterally recognising the contested Golan Heights as Israeli, sparking a wave of indignation in the international community.
Speaking at an Arab League gathering on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf rejected the US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heigts that were seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and formally annexed in 1981.
His Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui, in turn, said that he will work with other Arab countries to contain the impact of Washington’s decision.
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit shared Al-Assaf’s sentiments, having stressed that the Golan Heights belong to Syria.
Earlier this week, Reuters cited the Saudi Press Agency as reporting that Riyadh had condemned the Trump administration’s decision.
“Attempts to impose fait accompli do not change the facts”, the statement said as quoted by Reuters. The Golan Heights was an “occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions […] It will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region”.
According to Reuters, the Saudi Press Agency branded Trump’s declaration as a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.
On Monday, Trump signed a proclamation formally recognising the Golan Heights as a part of Israel, drawing much condemnation from many countries around the globe. Syria, which considers the Golans to historically be a part of its territory, slammed Trump’s recognition as an act of aggression against the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution urging Israel to immediately withdraw its forces from the occupied area after the country organised local elections in the area on 30 October.
Although Israel seized the Golan Heights from neighbouring Syria following the Six-Day War in 1967, it was only in 1981 when Tel Aviv formally passed legislation annexing the area. The law, however, failed to find international support: the decision was slammed by the UN as illegal, the United States refused to recognise it as well.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that the country would not retreat to the 1967 lines because they were “indefensible”, and that the Golan Heights would “remain in the hands of Israel forever”.