Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday indicated that his country will not agree to any change of status for the Golan Heights, which Moscow, along with the large majority of the international community, considers occupied Syrian territory.
His comments followed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call on the international community Monday to recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin appreciates how important the strategic plateau is for Israel.
“The status of the Golan Heights is determined by the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow. “Changing this status bypassing the Security Council, from my perspective, would be a direct violation of these resolutions.”
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War, and formally annexed the territory in 1981. UN Security Council Resolution 497 of that year declared that Israel’s annexation of the “occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.” It passed unanimously.
During a visit to a synagogue at the Ein Keshatot archaeological site on the Golan Heights, Netanyahu vowed never to retreat from the area.
“Israel on the Golan Heights is a guarantee of stability in the surrounding area,” he said, noting Iran’s efforts to establish itself military close to Israel’s border with Syria.
“Israel on the Golan Heights is a solid reality based on ancient rights. Israel on the Golan Heights is a fact that the international community must recognize and as long as it is up to me the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli sovereignty because otherwise we would have Iran and Hezbollah on the shores of the Sea of Galilee,” he added.