190328 Trump Golan
US President Donald Trump holds up a signed Proclamation on the Golan Heights alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC. Image Credit: AFP

The United States faced sharp criticism Wednesday at the UN Security Council over its decision to recognize occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which big powers denounced as a violation of UN resolutions.

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation Monday in which the United States recognized Israel’s annexation of the strategic plateau that it seized in 1967 and annexed in 1981.

Britain, Washington’s closest ally, said the decision was in violation of Resolution 497 that declared Israel’s annexation of the Golan as “null and void.”

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France warned that any attempt to turn away from international law was “doomed to fail” as the United States prepares to unveil its Middle East peace proposals.

Russia appealed to governments to reject the US decision and to continue to view the Golan as Israeli-occupied territory.

“If anybody feels any temptation to follow this poor example, we would urge them to refrain from this aggressive revision of international law,” said Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov.

The council was meeting at the request of Syria, which in a letter to the council called the US decision a “flagrant violation” of UN resolutions.

Three Security Council resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from the Golan, which it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed, in a move that was not recognized internationally.

The United States defended its decision, arguing it bolstered Israel’s security and could contribute to the stability of the entire Middle East by keeping Syria and its Iranian ally in check.

To allow the Golan to be controlled by Syria “would turn a blind eye to the threats emanating” from Damascus and from Iran and its Hezbollah allies that want to use the Golan to attack Israel, said US diplomat Rodney Hunter.