Israel Policy Forum supports U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Prior to its capture by Israel in 1967, the Golan was used for decades as a launching ground for attacks against Israel and its northern residents. It is a critical strategic asset in Israel’s defense of its northern border, and the presence of hostile Iranian forces and militias in Syria – including IRGC and Hizballah fighters – only reinforces the strategic imperative of Israeli control over the territory.

While we support permanent Israeli control of the Golan, we nevertheless question the need for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty at this time. Israeli control of the Golan is not a matter of controversy and is not an issue that has generated much attention or opposition. Highlighting it now may actually be counterproductive, as it would bring attention to an issue that has been under the radar and would risk inflaming the situation in southern Syria by baiting Syrian forces or other pro-regime elements into carrying out a response. Coming so close to Israel’s elections, this appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to bolster Prime Minister Netanyahu’s re-election efforts rather than a move whose timing is dictated by pure policy considerations.

More importantly, we are concerned that recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan will create momentum for recognition of Israeli annexation of the West Bank. While the Golan and the West Bank are completely unrelated, Israeli politicians have argued that Golan annexation is a first step on the path toward West Bank annexation. We call on the Trump administration to unequivocally state that recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan has no bearing on the status of the West Bank and that U.S. policy remains that any change in the West Bank’s status quo must come as a result of a negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.