March 25, 2019 – Condemning today’s announcement that the U.S. is recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Philippe Nassif, Middle East advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, made the following statement:
“The decision to recognize the Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli territory is irresponsible, reckless and yet another example of the Trump Administration violating international law and consensus by condoning Israel’s illegal annexation.
“Such announcements—like the administration’s decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel—will only make the human rights crisis in the region worse. Trump must understand that a just and sustainable peace requires full respect for international law and human rights.”
The Syrian Golan Heights came under Israeli control, along with the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula following the 1967 war. These areas are acknowledged to be occupied territory where international humanitarian law is applicable, and Israel is recognized as the occupying power with responsibilities outlined under international humanitarian law. Thousands of Syrians were forcibly displaced from the Golan Heights as a result of the war and the occupation. Israel destroyed more than 100 villages, most of whose land was used for establishing illegal settlements.
The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Plan. Israel had retained control over the rest of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights.
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Israel’s illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem was formalized in domestic law in 1980 and has been repeatedly condemned by the international community through various UN Security Council resolutions. The annexation of the Golan Heights was specifically condemned by the UN Security Council in Resolution 497, which declared, “…that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect…”
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