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Syria calls for emergency UN meeting on Golan recognition

The Syrian Golan Heights have been occupied since 1967 [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 March, 2019

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Syria has called for the UN to hold an emergency meeting on the US' recognition of occupied Golan as Israeli land.
Syria called on Tuesday for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to hold an emergency meeting on the US' recognition of the Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli territory this week.

It comes after President Donald Trump signed a proclamation Monday stating it recognises Israel's annexation of occupied Syrian land, something considered illegal under international law.

The Syrian mission to the UN asked the council presidency, held by France, to schedule an urgent meeting to "discuss the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan and the recent flagrant violation of the relevant Security Council's resolution by a permanent member-state", according a letter seen by AFP.

A session on this was not immediately scheduled although diplomats said there would be a discussion at the council about the request.

A separate letter was written by the Syrian envoy on Friday urging the council to uphold resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from the territories.

The council is due to discuss the US announcement on the Golan during a meeting on Wednesday renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force deployed between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan, known as UNDOF.

Golan Heights and the surrounding region. [Click to enlarge]

Israel seized the strategically-important Golan Heights in the 1967 war with Syria, and effectively illegally annexed it in 1981.

Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah - a key backer of the Syrian regime - said the only option left to Syrians to take back the Golan was "resistance, resistance, and resistance", and described the US recognition as "a crucial turning point in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict."

Trump's decision "deals a knockout punch to what is called the peace process in the region, which is built on (the concept of) land in exchange for peace", he said in a televised address.

The 30th Arab League Summit is due to take place in Tunis on Sunday, where the issue of the Golan will likely be discussed.

Five European countries on the UN Security Council earlier rejected Trump's decision and voiced concern that the US move would have broad consequences in the Middle East.

Two of Washington's closest allies - the UK and France - joined Belgium, Germany and Poland to declare that the European position had not changed and that the Golan remained Israeli-occupied Syrian territory.

Three UN Security Council resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from the illegally occupied Golan.

US Acting Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told a council meeting on the Middle East that Washington's decision was designed to "stand up to" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran.

"To allow the Golan Heights to be controlled by the likes of the Syrian and Iranian regimes would turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the Assad regime and malign and destabilising presence of Iran in the region," said Cohen.

There "can be no peace agreement that does not satisfactorily address Israel's security needs in the Golan Heights", he added.

Security Council members China and Russia spoke out against the US decision, as did Indonesia and South Africa, two countries that strongly support the Palestinians, as did Kuwait.

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