March 11, 2019 / 4:37 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. Senator Graham says he will lobby Trump to recognise Golan as part of Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights March 11, 2019 REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said on Monday he would lobby the Trump administration to recognise the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel.

Graham spoke during a tour of the plateau, captured from Syria during the 1967 Middle East War, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel effectively annexed the Golan in 1981, in a move not recognised internationally, when it adopted legislation that applied its laws to the area.

“There is no construct I can imagine now or any time in the future for the state of Israel to give the Golan up,” Graham told reporters.

Syria’s eight-year civil war has at times raged close to the Golan boundary.

Graham said he would talk to Trump about recognising the rugged, strategically located plateau as part of Israel as it was “inconceivable that Israel could ever give it to anyone given the threats Israel faces”.

Israel says the territory is a critical buffer zone to defend its territory and has itself lobbied Trump to recognise Israeli sovereignty there.

In 2017, Trump broke with decades of U.S. policy on Jerusalem and recognised the city as Israel’s capital, angering Palestinians who seek its eastern sector as capital of a state they want to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But Trump said he was not taking a position on the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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