A convoy of vehicles of the United Nations drives through damaged buildings in the Syrian town of Quneitra, in the Golan Heights. AFP
The Arab League’s categorical rejection of the US recognition of Israeli control over the Golan Heights at the annual summit on Sunday is absolutely justified.
Arab leaders have always remained firm on their commitment to resolving the conflict based on the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, as per which they would recognise Israel in return for a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights as well as east Jerusalem and the West Bank, lands occupied in the 1967 war.
As the summit’s final communique stated, the US move is illegal in letter and spirit and a flagrant violation of UN Charter relating to the forcible acquisition of one state’s territory by another state.
By issuing such a decision, the US has certainly failed to live up to its obligations towards respecting the UN Charter and Security Council resolutions in its capacity as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
It is not just the Arab League, but almost all countries oppose Washington’s decision. In fact, the United States had faced sharp criticism at the UN Security Council over its decision, which big powers denounced as a violation of UN resolutions.
President Donald Trump’s signing of a proclamation in which the United States recognised Israel’s annexation of the strategic plateau that it seized in 1967 and annexed in 1981 should be seen as one of the biggest blunders.
Even Britain, Washington’s closest ally, had stated that the decision was in violation of Resolution 497, which declared Israel’s annexation of the Golan as null and void.
France warned that any attempt to turn away from international law was doomed to fail.
Russia has already appealed to governments to reject the US decision and to continue to view the Golan as Israeli-occupied territory.
The Arab Parliament too had earlier totally rejected the US action. As stated by Dr Mishaal Bin Fahm Al Salami, Speaker of Arab Parliament, the US illegal decision is completely rejected and condemned, null, has no legal grounds, and are unilateral measures to change a legally recognised situation, which is that the Syrian Golan Heights remain an occupied land.
The UAE, on its part, has correctly affirmed the necessity of abiding by UN Security Council resolutions No. 242 of 1967 and 497 of 1981 and the principles set out in the Arab Peace Initiative concerning a full Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights.
If at all anything, Trump’s decision is a deliberate and unambiguous violation of the United Nations Charter and international law and can only be seen as needless provocation.
It is bound to have a serious negative impact on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region.
As Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit told a news conference, “It is true that America is the strongest military force in the world, but its decision is absolutely worthless.”
Escalating the move to the UN Security Council as well as the International Court of Justice against Washington’s decision seems to be the way out.
The principled stance adopted by a number of world countries and regional and international organizations who have rejected the US decision and their firm adherence to international law, UN Charter and international legitimacy resolutions should be deeply appreciated.