UNITED NATIONS – The international powers firmly rejected on Wednesday the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize the sovereignty of Israel over the occupied Golan Heights and warned of the risks posed by this unilateral movement.
The UN Security Council discussed the declaration, which was approved by Trump on March 25, in an emergency meeting Wednesday, in which Washington defended that this step could help calm the Middle East.
Rodney Hunter, political coordinator of the US mission to the United Nations said that the decision would “bolster Israel’s security” and “can contribute to the stability of the entire Middle East.”
However, one by one the members of the Security Council rejected the declaration, which explicitly goes against earlier resolutions by the organization.
Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom – the four permanent members of the Council along with the US – were all clear in their opposition to the US decision.
The harshest criticism, as usual, were those of Moscow, the great ally of the Syrian government, who insisted that Washington is endangering the relative calm that reigns in that strategic enclave.
Vladimir Safronkov, the Russian representative at the meeting, insisted that this move is “unacceptable” and accused the US of taking “unilateral steps that undermine” the positive tendencies on the ground.
In addition, Safronkov said that the recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights complicates the situation in Syria and the possibilities of normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab countries.
The Russian diplomat said that the decision confirms the US commitment to unilateralism in the Middle East after the transfer of its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran.
The UK and France, two of the main US allies in the Security Council, also made their opposition clear, recalling that the annexation of territories by force is prohibited under international law and that its recognition undermines the effectiveness of that legal system.
French diplomat Anne Gueguen said that any attempt to depart from international law and the resolutions of this Council and to replace them with unilateral decisions is doomed to failure.
She insisted that the US approach will not bring peace to the region and will make the international legal order more fragile.
Germany, which, like the rest of the European countries, rejects Trump’s measure, but also denounces the hypocrisy of the Syrian government for resorting to the UN to denounce what it considers a violation of international law when it has been committing serious crimes against its own population for years.
The attitude of the Bashar al-Assad regime and its cooperation with Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement is one of the arguments used by the US to justify its move.
“Anyone who says Syria should control the Golan is taking a position not based in reality. Allowing the Golan to be controlled by the Assad regime and their Iranian backers would ignore the atrocities committed and ignore the very real threat to Israel’s existence,” defended on Wednesday the American envoy for the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt.
The same approach was taken at the Security Council meeting by the Israeli ambassador, Danny Danon, who insisted that the security of his country is at stake in the Golan Heights.
Despite the broad rejection of Trump’s decision, diplomatic sources admit that no concrete action is expected in response from the Security Council, given that the US has veto power.