As The Daily Wire has reported numerous times, there has been a recent push among many for the U.S. to formally recognize Israel’s control over the strategically sensitive Golan Heights region, which Israel first acquired in 1967’s existential Six Day War defensive fight and formally annexed in 1981. Since 1981, however, the status of the Golan Heights has languished as a matter of formal U.S. recognition.
On December 18, a joint Senate resolution from Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) called for formal recognition by thoroughly tracing the modern history of the Golan’s legal status, from 1967 through the bloody years-long civil war raging in Syria through the present day. In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a direct pitch for formal U.S. recognition to National Security Advisor John Bolton. At a joint press conference with Bolton, Netanyahu stated, “Tomorrow, if weather permits, we will go up to the Golan Heights — it is tremendously important for our security. When you are there, you’ll be able to understand perfectly why we will never leave the Golan Heights and why it is important that all countries recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” And most recently, some Democrats last month indicated the possibility that there might be bipartisan support for some measure of U.S. recognition — either formal or de facto — of the Golan Heights.
Now, Axios reports that, for the first time, the U.S. State Department — long a parochial bastion of pro-Arab, anti-Israel bias — has taken the comparatively mild step of referring to the Golan Heights not as “occupied territory,” but instead as “under Israeli control”:
The U.S. refers to the Golan Heights as an area “under Israeli control,” instead of “occupied territory,” for the first time in a human rights report issued today by the State Department. …
This step is both symbolic and significant. Israel occupied the Golan Heights, recognized internationally as Syrian territory, during the 1967 war. In the last year, Israel has been lobbying the Trump administration and Congress to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area. The change in language in the report is not a recognition of Israeli sovereignty, but is a clear signal in that direction.
As Axios also notes, the State Department last year also dropped the term “occupied” in a separate report headline that discussed Israel’s (entirely lawful) presence in Judea and Samaria — which much of the “international community” refers to as the “West Bank.”
As Axios further notes, an anonymous senior State Department official attempted to downplay the news:
As we stated last year, we retitled this Human Rights Report to refer to the commonly used geographic names of the area the report covers: Israel, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and Gaza. That is in line with our practices generally. We also believe it is clearer and more useful for readers seeking information on human rights in those specific areas. The title of the report was updated to reflect current practices in the Department and to be clearer and more useful to readers and researchers.
As anyone who has ever personally visited the Golan Heights would be able to attest, “under Israeli control” is simply an accurate description of the on-the-ground, day-to-day reality of how the strategically sensitive, mountainous terrain is administered and governed.