The UN Security Council will hold an urgent public meeting Wednesday at Syria’s request on the US decision to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, diplomats said.
Syria made the request in a letter sent Tuesday to France, which holds the council presidency for the month of March, calling President Donald Trump’s decision a “flagrant violation” of UN resolutions.
Trump signed a proclamation Monday in which the United States recognized Israel’s annexation of the strategic plateau, despite UN resolutions that call for Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan.
Three Security Council resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from the Golan, which it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981, in a move that was never recognized internationally.
At a meeting on the Middle East on Tuesday, several countries spoke out against the US decision and European countries voiced concern that the move could have broad consequences in the region.
Two of Washington’s closest allies — Britain 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, in line with international law enshrined in UN resolutions.
US Acting Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the meeting Washington had made the decision 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 destabilizing presence of Iran in the region,” said Cohen.
The council is not expected to release a statement on the US decision as this would require consensus among all 15 council members including the United States.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement that it was “time for the international community to recognize that the Golan will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.”
“The United States and Israel stand together in this debate against the hypocrisy and the lies,” he said ahead of the meeting set for around 3:00 pm (1900 GMT).
The council had been scheduled to meet behind closed doors to discuss the future of the peacekeeping force deployed on the Golan, known as UNDOF.
But France decided to turn that meeting into a public session, following Syria’s request.
After Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a group of Arab countries presented a resolution in 2017 condemning the decision to the General Assembly that won overwhelming support.
But UN diplomats said it was premature to speculate as to whether there would be a similar move in the assembly concerning the Golan.
The head of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, a key Syrian ally, called for “resistance, resistance, and resistance” against the US decision.
In an address aired on Lebanese television on Tuesday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah described Trump’s move as “a crucial turning point in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Trump’s decision “deals a knockout punch” to the principle of land-for-peace that underpinned the Arab-Israeli peace process for decades, he said.
He called on the Arab League, which has suspended Syria’s membership over the bloody repression of protests leading to the war, to take action at a summit at the end of the month in Tunis.
Photo: Protesters hold a national flag under a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Golan Heights, during a demonstration on March 26, 2019 against the US decision to recognize the region as Israeli.