US votes towards UN Golan decision for first time

US votes against UN Golan resolution for first time

The United States voted on Friday against an annual United Nations resolution that condemns Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights.

Nikki Haley, the U.S.'s United Nations envoy, made the announcement in which she called "useless" the annual resolution.

In a statement announcing the shift, Haley pointed out that with Syria in tatters, and its rulers having proved themselves to be risky war criminals, "if this resolution ever made sense, it surely does not today".

The non-binding resolution, which is voted on by a UN General Assembly committee each year, takes issue with the "illegality of the decision" taken by Israel "to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan", which it says is illegal under worldwide law.

The document specifically touches upon the "illegality of the decision" by Israel "to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan", which the resolution insists violates global law. Israel captured most of it from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

"Obviously we understand the Israeli claim that it has annexed the Golan Heights - we understand their position - but there's no change in the United States position for now".

On Friday, Dannon was defiant and told the committee that Israel will not withdraw from the area: "Israel will not withdraw from the Golan Heights, it is time the worldwide community accepts it". Haley suggested this would be the new normal, and that the USA would not abstain from "useless annual votes" on Israeli matters.

Israeli soldiers at an army base in the Golan Heights look out across the border with Syria on July 7, 2018.

Friday's vote marked a break from Washington's habitual abstention from the vote. In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan when it extended Israeli civil law to the territory.

In the past, the USA has abstained on the resolution, which will be brought to a vote Friday before the UN Fourth Committee. "The United States will vote no".

The Syrian regime's "atrocities prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone", the statement read, adding that the Iranian presence inside Syria presents "major threats to global security" and that "ISIS and other terrorist groups remain in Syria".

The presence of Iranian military forces in Syria, seen as legitimate by Russian Federation after Damascus "invited" them in, is viewed as a dire military threat by Israel that could embolden the Syrian government and Lebanese militants Hezbollah.

Since early in Donald Trump's presidency, Israel has lobbied for formal United States endorsement of its control of the Golan.

"It is time for the world to distinguish between those who stabilize the region and those who sow terror", he added.

Israeli officials praised the USA move.

In September, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that he expects the annexed territory to remain under Israeli control "forever". There is no sane [person] who believes that the Golan will return to the murderous regime of Al-Assad, as well as the Iranian regime which seeks to establish another Hezbollah in the region.

However, in a late August visit to Israel, National Security Advisor John Bolton said "there's no discussion of it, no decision within the US government".

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