(JNS.org) The Israeli cabinet on Sunday held its first-ever meeting in the Golan Heights amid reports that the territory is being discussed as part of Syrian civil war peace talks.
“Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights....In the 49 years Israel has controlled the Golan, it has been a place of peace and prosperity. Israel today is the solution, not the problem,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as Israel’s cabinet held its weekly meeting in the Golan to symbolize the Jewish state’s sovereignty in the area.
According to recent reports, a negotiated deal on the Syrian civil war that is being worked on by world powers would declare the Golan Heights as Syrian territory.
Israel’s Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu had phoned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the issue, and that he will also discuss the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their upcoming meeting.
Israel gained control of the strategically important Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War. After Israel briefly lost territory during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel and Syria established a United Nations-monitored cease-fire line in the region, with Israel taking the western two-thirds of the territory. Amid the ongoing Syrian civil war, the territory continues to play a strategic role for Israel. Iran, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State terror group all have a presence in Syrian territory near the Israeli border.