The United States published for the first time on Tuesday a map showing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, three weeks after the country officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau.
The map shows the 1974 ceasefire line between Israel and the Syrian regime as a permanent border, whereas the border with Lebanon continues to be demarcated as the 1949 armistice line. It also clarifies that while the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, it does not take a final position on the boundaries of the city.
U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, shared a picture of the map on social media saying: “Welcome to the newest addition of our international maps system after @POTUS issued a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on March 25, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump made formal a move he had announced earlier in the month.
“Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel,” Trump said, as he explained the decision.
Netanyahu hailed the move as a “diplomatic victory” and stressed that “Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of defense.” During the Six Day War, Israel was defending itself from aggression on the part of its Arab neighbors, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt – meaning that the territory was not taken in a war of aggression but constituted a lawful territorial change in response to outside aggressors.
Israel has long argued that it cannot risk a permanent entrenchment of Iranian and Hezbollah forces along the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. The shift in policy has gained increasing bipartisan support. In January, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D – Md.) said, “Israel should maintain control of the Golan Heights.”