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US lawmakers move to recognize Syria’s Golan Heights as Israeli territory

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Druze women residing in Majdal Shams in the Israeli-occupied Golan heights look to the other side of the border on February 14, 2019, during a protest against the 1981 Israeli annexation law of the strategic plateau which the Jewish state captured from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. (Photo by AFP)

Republican members of the US Congress have introduced a bill that seeks to recognize Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory, a move that President Donald Trump has yet to endorse.

The measure, brought by Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton as well as Representative Mike Gallagher, cites concerns about what the lawmakers call a “threat” posed by Iran.

 “The United States has been committed for over 40 years to ensuring Israel’s security from attacks emanating from across the Golan Heights,” the bill’s sponsors said Wednesday.

“The threat Iran poses to America and Israel requires acknowledging the reality of Israel’s control over the territory as a matter of national security.”

The bill has no Democratic support. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has also kept mum on the bill.

Israeli officials have long pushed for US recognition of the Tel Aviv regime’s sovereignty claims over the territory, which was seized from Syria in 1967.

The pressure peaked a year ago, after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and moved the US diplomatic mission to the city despite international outrage.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly discussed the issue with both US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the White House in 2017, urging them to recognize Israel’s sovereignty.

Netanyahu has stepped up his efforts over the past years, using the presence of Iranian military advisers and Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah’s fighters in Syria as a scare tactic to convince US leaders.

In response to UN calls to give back Golan Heights to Syria, the Israeli premiere argued that withdrawal from the occupied territories puts Iran and Hezbollah on the “shores of the Kinneret (sea of Galilee).”

He claimed back then that Iran and Hezbollah were “trying constantly to establish a force opposite us that would operate against the Golan Heights and the Galilee.”

Both Iran and Hezbollah are in Syria upon a request from Damascus.Along with Russia, they have helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad purge Daesh and other terror outfits from most parts of the country.

Concerned about a possible international backlash, Trump administration officials have privately asked Israel to quiet the lobbying campaign.

Republicans, however, are ready to raise the issue the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives.

According to its co-sponsors, the bill asserts that recognizing Israel’s sovereignty claims is serves the US “national security interest to ensure that the Golan Heights region remains out of Syrian hands.”

The Republican effort comes weeks ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s plan to approve a resolution that condemns the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights.

The UNHRC and the UN General Assembly have repeatedly called on Tel Aviv to pull out from the occupied lands.

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