(January 7, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton on Sunday for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The prime minister raised the issue with U.S. President Donald Trump and did so on again with Bolton, who is in Israel as part of a trip that also includes visiting Turkey on Monday.
“When you’re there, you’ll be able to understand perfectly why we’ll never leave the Golan Heights and why it’s important that all countries recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” said Netanyahu at a joint press conference with Bolton.
Netanyahu hoped to show Bolton the Golan Heights, but the trip was scrapped due to weather conditions, according to the prime minister’s office.
Although the United States does not recognize Israeli control over the Golan Heights, it voted for the first time in November against an annual U.N. resolution condemning the Israeli position, hinting at a possible shift in U.S. policy.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) expressed support for American recognition of Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights, especially with geopolitical concerns north of Israel.
“Israel’s northern border has become increasingly dangerous in recent weeks with the discovery of Hezbollah’s terror tunnels and Bashar al Assad’s continued efforts to consolidate control of Syria with the assistance of Iranian shock troops,” said Cruz and Cotton. “Responding to the threat posed by Iran and its proxies requires ensuring that Israel can defend its territory and its citizens from attacks.”
The senators introduced a resolution last month, calling for the U.S. recognition.
‘In words and deeds’
In the Sunday press conference, Netanyahu praised the Trump administration for its support of Israel.
“Your visit has given us an opportunity to do two things,” Netanyahu said to Bolton. “First, it has given us an opportunity to thank the Trump administration for their extraordinary support. Secondly, the president decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the embassy to Jerusalem—a historic decision which we welcome.”
“Third, you’ve unequivocally backed Israel at the United Nations, which is deeply appreciated by Israelis around the world,” he added. “You have backed both in words and deeds Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Bolton echoed America.’s strong alliance with Israel, saying that the Trump administration has exemplified “the best U.S.-Israel relationship in our history.”
“We’ve got the continuing threat of Iran’s quest for deliverable nuclear deal, and despite getting out of the Iranian nuclear deal and despite the sanctions, we have little doubt that Iran is strategically committed to achieving deliverable nuclear weapons, United States and Israel are strategically committed to making sure that doesn’t happen,” he said.
He assured Netanyahu that amid the announced U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria, the administration will “make sure [the Islamic State] is defeated and … make sure the defense of Israel and our other friends in the regions is assured.”
“Trump backs Israel’s right to self-defense; he says it publicly and unequivocally,” said Bolton. “Any nation … that has any doubt about American support for Israel’s self defense— it better think about it again.”