UN SPECIAL Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen on Friday underlined Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, rejecting a US congressional motion to recognise Israel’s annexation of the occupied territory.
‘Obviously the Security Council is very clear that the Golan is Syrian territory, and the first aspect of Resolution 2254 is of course the territorial integrity of Syria,’ Pedersen told reporters at a Security Council briefing on Syria held last Thursday in New York.
He made the comments in response to a question regarding a bill introduced by Republican members of the US Congress which seeks to recognise Syria’s Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
The measure, brought by Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton as well as Representative Mike Gallagher, cites concerns about what the lawmakers call a ‘threat’ posed by Iran.
‘The United States has been committed for over 40 years to ensuring Israel’s security from attacks emanating from across the Golan Heights,’ the bill’s sponsors said last Wednesday.
Republicans in the US Congress have introduced a bill that recognises Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
Israeli officials have long pushed for US recognition of the Tel Aviv regime’s sovereignty claims over the territory, which was seized from Syria in 1967.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu openly discussed the issue with both US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to The White House in 2017, urging them to recognise Israel’s sovereignty.
Netanyahu has stepped up his efforts over the past years, using the presence of Iranian military advisers and Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah’s fighters in Syria as a scare tactic to convince US leaders.
This comes as the United Nations has time and again stressed Syria’s sovereignty over the occupied heights. Back in December 2018, the majority of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging the Israeli regime to withdraw from the entirety of the Syrian Golan Heights.
The resolution, titled The Syrian Golan, was adopted by a record vote of 99 in favour, 10 against and 66 abstentions.
It declared that the Israeli controversial move to extend its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied mountainous plateau is null and void and called on Tel Aviv to leave the strategically-important territory.
The UN General Assembly has called on Israel to withdraw from the entirety of Syria’s Golan Heights.
Later in the month, the General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution on the permanent sovereignty of Syria over the natural resources of the Golan Heights.
The resolution reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan to sovereignty over its natural resources, including land, water and energy.
Earlier this week, UN chief Antonio Guterres unveiled a report which accused Israel of burying radioactive nuclear waste in the Golan Heights.
Guterres submitted the report – which is based on Syria’s charges against Israel – to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at the panel’s 40th session, which opened in Geneva last Monday and will run through to March 22nd.
‘The Syrian Arab Republic noted that Israel continued to bury nuclear waste with radioactive content in 20 different areas populated by Syrian citizens of the occupied Syrian Golan, particularly in the vicinity of al-Sheikh Mountain,’ the report says.
UN chief Antonio Guterres is expected to unveil today a report which accuses Israel of burying radioactive nuclear waste in the Golan Heights.
At the United Nations, Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar al-Ja’afari told a Security Council session that US, French, British and Turkish forces must end their illegal presence in the Arab country.
Ja’afari hit out at hostile US statements about keeping part of its troops on the Syrian territory, saying: ‘Syria will deal with any foreign military presence, without its acceptance, as an aggression.’
The White House announced last Thursday that around 400 American troops would remain in Syria on a ‘peacekeeping’ mission despite President Donald Trump’s pledge to fully withdraw from the country.
- Meanwhile, the US has told the Philippines that it would come to its defence in the event of a confrontation with China which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo singled out last Friday as a threat to stability.
Pompeo made a stop-over in Manila after a summit in Hanoi with North Korea, saying the US would adhere to a 1951 Philippine-US Mutual Defence Treaty in the event of a military showdown.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, however, is not a fan of the alliance and believes that it makes his country an unnecessary target of China, with which he wants stronger business ties.
The treaty was agreed five years after the Philippines gained independence from the US in 1946, under which they should come to each other’s aid in case of an ‘armed attack in the Pacific area’ on either party.
Duterte has repeatedly questioned the US commitment to the deal, noting Washington’s inability to stop China from turning reefs into islands equipped with radar, missiles batteries and hangers for fighter jets.
Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has been seeking a review of the treaty, with the aim of clarifying the extent to which the US would defend the Philippines should it come under attack.
‘Any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defence obligations,’ Pompeo said on Friday.
‘China’s island-building and military activities in the South China Sea threaten your sovereignty, security and therefore economic livelihood as well as that of the United States,’ he said.
China has warned that the US would have to pay a ‘price’ if it continued to interfere in territorial disputes between Beijing and its neighbours over the South China Sea.
A top Chinese daily warns the US of having to pay a ‘price’ for meddling in territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing last Friday that China and the countries around the South China Sea were working hard to protect peace and stability.
‘So if countries outside the region, like the United States, really want to consider the peace, tranquillity and well-being of the people in the region, then they shouldn’t make trouble out of nothing and incite trouble,’ Lu said.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The waters are believed to sit atop vast reserves of oil and gas.
The US has increased its presence in the Asia-Pacific region through its so-called pivot strategy, sending warships to the South China Sea to protect what it calls ‘freedom of navigation’ in the waters.
China says the deployments could easily trigger miscalculation or even accidents at sea or in the air.