Dubai: The United States is set to oppose on Friday for the first time an annual resolution at the United Nations calling on Israel to rescind its authority in the occupied Golan Heights, drawing praise from Israeli officials.
Israel seized and occupied 1,200 square km of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 War. It annexed the territory in 1981, a move not recognised internationally.
The United States has abstained in previous years on the annual “Occupied Syrian Golan” resolution, which declares Israel’s decision to impose its jurisdiction in the area “null and void”, but Washington’s UN envoy Nikki Haley said it would vote against the resolution in Friday’s vote.
The administration of Donald Trump is considered to be the most pro-Israeli US government to date, and Haley has continuously taken a confrontational stance against the UN accusing it of anti-Israel bias since assuming her post.
“The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights,” she said in a statement on Thursday.
“The resolution is plainly biased against Israel. Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone.”
Her comments came after the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said in September that he expected Israel to keep the Golan Heights in perpetuity, in an apparent nod towards its claim of sovereignty over the territory.
Since early in Donald Trump’s presidency, Israel has lobbied for formal US endorsement of its control of the Golan.
Trump has recognised Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with other world powers, though his national security adviser John Bolton told Reuters in August a similar Golan move was not under discussion.
Israeli officials praised the US move.