Senator Graham says he will lobby Trump to recognize Golan as part of Israel

Slideshow ( 6 images )

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said on Monday he would lobby the Trump administration to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel.

Graham spoke during a tour of the plateau, captured from Syria during the 1967 Middle East War, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel effectively annexed the Golan in 1981, in a move not recognized internationally, when it adopted legislation that applied its laws to the area.

“There is no construct I can imagine now or any time in the future for the state of Israel to give the Golan up,” Graham told reporters.

Syria’s eight-year civil war has at times raged close to the Golan boundary.

Graham said he would talk to Trump about recognizing the rugged, strategically located plateau as part of Israel as it was “inconceivable that Israel could ever give it to anyone given the threats Israel faces”.

Israel says the territory is a critical buffer zone to defend its territory and has itself lobbied Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty there.

In 2017, Trump broke with decades of U.S. policy on Jerusalem and recognized the city as Israel’s capital, angering Palestinians who seek its eastern sector as capital of a state they want to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But Trump said he was not taking a position on the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Mark Heinrich