Spotlight: Netanyahu vows Israel's "forever" control of Golan Heights

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-07 15:58:54|Editor: xuxin
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by Xinhua writer Wang Bowen

JERUSALEM, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Tuesday to "forever" maintain control of the Golan Heights, which was captured during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or the Six Day War.

"I came to tell you that the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli sovereignty. We will never leave the Golan Heights. It is ours," the right-wing leader stated at a youth conference of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee to mark the 50th anniversary of the war.

Despite the pledge, the international community, including its closest ally the United States, has never recognized Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights.

Israel has tried all means, though in vain, to legitimize its control over Syria's territory.

Last year, on the 49th anniversary of the war, Netanyahu made identical declarations about how Israel views the Golan Heights.

"The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel's hands. Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights," Netanyahu told a special cabinet meeting last year.

Soon after the war, the first batch of Israelis who moved to the Golan Heights gradually established the first kibbutz there called Merom Golan (the height of the Golan).

Currently, the Golan Heights is home to 50,000 people, among which more than half are Israelis, who have made quite a life there, taking care of apple and cherry orchards and producing award-winning Israeli wines.

However, neighboring countries, especially Palestinians, sniff at Israel, arguing prosperity on occupied land is not worthy of boasting.

Internationally, Israel has long argued that it must maintain the territory for security reasons and hoped the Trump administration could take a clear stance alongside Israel.

During Netanyahu's three-day visit to Washington in February, Israel asked the United States to recognize its sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

While Israel is rejoiced to mark the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement on Monday that Israel still occupies the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Syria's Golan Heights and the occupation "has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden" on Palestinians.

Guterres, while saying the 1967 Arab-Israeli war has resulted in generations of Palestinians living in refugee camps with little hope, urged Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct talks on a two-state solution that would end Israel's occupation

Israel seized the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast War and annexed it in 1981, a move never recognized by the international community.