In first, US votes against UN censure of Israel over Golan

JALAA MAREY

JALAA MAREY

For the first time, the United States will vote against the annual United Nations resolution demanding Israel relinquish the Golan Heights according to a statement from the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Thursday.

"Hopefully, Friday's United Nations vote is a step in this direction; in any case, it is a welcome rebuke to the U.N.'s practice of passing dozens of biased resolutions targeting Israel, while empowering despots like Assad". "The United States will vote no", said Ambassador Haley.

More recently, the Golan Heights has acted as a strategic buffer for the Jewish state against the ongoing civil war in Syria.

While the resolution is non-binding, the annual ritual has served as an worldwide censure of Israel's decision in the early 1980s to bring the Golan under its sovereignty. "The destructive influence of the Iranian regime inside Syria presents major threats to worldwide security", she said in a statement on the eve of the vote. The US usually abstains.

The week before, member of Israeli parliament Yoav Kisch wrote a letter to United States ambassador to Israel David Friedman in which he stated that a USA recognition of the Golan Heights would be a natural continuation of the current U.S. policy in the region.

The Golan Heights were captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 six day war, and finally annexed by Israel in 1981 during Menachem Begin's period as prime minister.

In August, US National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters that the White House was not discussing recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. "Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone", she added. The General Assembly is due to formally adopt the resolution next month. But those same European nations "failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution this year on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries".

"The UN's planned assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal", said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the UN Watch monitor group.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians fled the Golan into other parts of Syria in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

The non-binding annual resolution takes issue with the "illegality of the decision" taken by Israel "to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan", which is illegal under global law.

"The change in the American voting pattern is another testament to the strong cooperation between the two countries", said Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon. "It is time for the world to distinguish between those who stabilize the region and those who sow terror".

The resolution passed 151-2 (with 14 abstentions) and came as part of a broader package of anti-Israel resolutions that passed a marathon General Assembly committee hearing on Friday morning.

However, Israel has also been pressing USA diplomats on other issues.

"I can not honestly imagine a situation in which the Golan Heights is not part of Israel forever", Friedman told the Israel Hayom daily.

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