The European Union said Wednesday that it was not altering its view on the status of the Golan Heights, despite this week’s US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the area, and that it was maintaining a stance in keeping with UN Security Council resolutions.
“The position of the European Union as regards the status of the Golan Heights has not changed,” the EU’s foreign affairs department said in a statement. “In line with the international law and UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 497, the European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.”
The statement required the support of all of the EU’s members, including countries seen as friendly to Israel, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic.
While the Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the statement, Israeli lawmakers chided the EU, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who said in a video posted to Twitter that the alliance of 28 European nations no longer deserved to be “defended” by Israel from radical Islam.
Noting that the EU also doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Bennett declared, “Shame on you.”
“The Golan Heights, Jerusalem and the Land of Israel have been the home of the Jewish people thousands of years before France was the home of the French and the UK the home of the British, so we will continue building our amazing country, and we’ll continue defending the free world from radical Islam even though you don’t deserve it,” he said.
US President Donald Trump formally recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights on Monday, saying the dramatic shift in American policy would help Israel defend itself against regional threats.
“This was a long time in the making,” Trump said alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, as he signed the proclamation.
Speaking ahead of the signing, Trump said the move would “allow Israel to defend itself” against the “significant security challenges it faces every single day.” He said Israel “took the Golan Heights to safeguard from external threats,” like those it currently faces from Syria, Iran, and the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981, a step tantamount to annexation. But the United States and the international community have long considered it Syrian territory under Israeli occupation. The plateau lies along a strategic area on the border between Israel and Syria.
On Tuesday five European countries that sit on the UN Security Council rejected Trump’s decision and voiced concern the move could have broad consequences.
Belgium, Britain, France, Germany and Poland insisted that the European position had not changed and that the Golan was Israeli-occupied Syrian territory, in accordance with international law enshrined in UN resolutions.