On January 8th, Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi described the Golan Heights as occupied Syrian territory and demanded that Israel withdraw its forces from the area.
Safadi’s comments came during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who landed in Amman earlier in the day.
“The Golan Heights are occupied Syrian territory. International law is clear on that. It has to be treated as such,” Safadi told reporters.
“Therefore, our position is that Israel needs to withdraw from that territory in the framework of a peace agreement,” he added.
#Jordan rejected the #US proposal, endorsing the #Israel/I wil, to consider the occupied Golan Heights as an Israeli territory.
Jordan said clearly to @SecPompeo that the #GolanHeights is a #Syrian territory and that #Israel should pull out immediately.
— Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) January 8, 2019
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war. It unilaterally annexed the area in 1981, in a move that wasn’t recognized internationally.
The UN Security Council has maintained the illegality of measures taken by Israel “to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan,” adding that “acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible under international law.”
During the press conference Pompeo essentially spoke about Iran and that the US would “redouble” its diplomatic and commercial efforts to counter Tehran’s “malign influence” in the region.
Two days before the press conference, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
During the meeting, Bolton guaranteed the US commitment to Israel’s security in the midst of the withdrawal from Syria.
Netanyahu on his part said that the time has come for US to recognize the annexation of the Golan Heights. “The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security,” he said.
The Israeli PM said that he hoped to helicopter to the strategic plateau on January 7th with Bolton so that “you will be able to understand perfectly why we will never leave the Golan Heights, and why it is important that all countries recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
Earlier, in December 2018, Bolton said that the US had no plans of recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
In September 2018, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that he expected the Golan Heights to remain under Israeli control “forever,” and mentioned the possibility of US official recognition of the Golan as Israeli territory.
In October 2018, Jordan announced its decision to not extend a 25-year deal that allowed Israel to use two tracts of territory along its border, as Netanyahu said Israel was planning to negotiate an extension.
“These are Jordanian lands and they will remain,” King Abdullah II said. In an “era of regional turmoil” his kingdom -sandwiched between Syria to the north, Iraq to the east and Israel to its west – Jordan wanted to protect its “national interests.”
Jordan is one of two Arab countries, the other being Egypt, that have signed a peace treaty with Israel. Despite it, MPs in Jordan have repeatedly called for an end of the agreement. Jordan officials are quite pro-Palestinian, so anti-Israeli sentiments are not surprising.