Congressional panel to hold hearing on Golan recognition

With the future of Syria now at the forefront of the international agenda, US Congressman Ron DeSantis, an advocate of the US recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, will hold a hearing on the matter on Tuesday in the House Subcommittee on National Security, which he chairs.

DeSantis, a Florida Republican who last month gained US President Donald Trump’s endorsement for his current race for Florida’s governorship, was a leading congressional proponent for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. He has titled Tuesday’s hearing, “A new horizon in US-Israel relations: From an American embassy in Jerusalem to potential over the Golan Heights.”

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Those scheduled to testify at the hearing are former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold, who heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; former US ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, who is now a professor at Princeton; Michael Doran from the Hudson Institute; and Eugene Kontorovich from Northwestern University’s law school.

The purpose of the hearing, according to an announcement put out by the Subcommittee on National Security, is “to discuss the potential for American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in furtherance of US national security interests.”

The announcement noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area in February 2017, and that in May 2018 Iranian forces fired rockets toward the area from Syria.

The US administration, however, has given no indication that it supports this move, and has signaled that it does not appreciate being lobbied about the issue, especially after just moving its embassy to Jerusalem and incurring censure from much of the world for that move.

Gold, who will testify in favor of the move and stress the importance of the strategic plateau to Israel’s security, said that before he agreed to testify he did his own “investigation” and found that there was no objection either in the US or in Israel to “responding for a request from the legislative branch” and testifying on the matter.

Gold said that Kurtzer is being brought by the Democrats on the committee to “bring a more skeptical view of this.”

Gold said that the Golan Heights has for long “been a sleeper issue,” but that as the Syrian civil war is coming to an end there will be more and more people asking, “What about the Golan Heights?” Meanwhile, Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, who has been actively lobbying for international recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, slammed Netanyahu for not pushing this issue. He said that during a recent visit to Washington, a number of senators and congressman said they were prepared to assist and push on this issue.