Europe News

U.N. Security Council to meet over U.S. Golan Heights decision

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights as Netanyahu exits the White House from the West Wing in Washington, U.S. March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council will meet later on Wednesday, at the request of Syria, over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move the U.N. Security Council declared “null and void and without international legal effect.”

In a letter to the 15-member Security Council requesting a meeting, Syria described the U.S. decision as a “flagrant violation” of Security Council resolutions.

Trump, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking over his shoulder during a visit to Washington, on Monday signed a proclamation officially granting U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

The European members of the council - France, Britain, Germany, Belgium and Poland - said on Tuesday they did not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it has occupied since June 1967, including the Golan Heights, and raised concerns about “broader consequences of recognizing illegal annexation and also about the broader regional consequences.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait on Tuesday criticized the U.S. decision and said the territory was occupied Arab land. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi said it was an impediment to peace. Iran echoed the comments, describing Trump’s decision as unprecedented in this century.

The Security Council deployed a peacekeeping force in 1974 - known as the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) - to monitor a ceasefire between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights. There are more than 880 U.N. troops on the ground.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols