On Sunday, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) issued a joint statement that supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contention that the United States should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
On Sunday, standing next to U.S. national security advisor John Bolton, Netanyahu had stated, “The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security,” adding that he hoped to take a helicopter with Bolton to see the Golan plateau on Monday so that Bolton could “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.”
Bolton said that the United States regarded the “ultimate mark of sovereignty” as a country’s ability to defend itself. He added, “President Trump has said repeatedly that he backs Israel’s right to self-defense. He says it proudly and unequivocally. And I would just say to any nation in this region — or not in this region — that has any doubt about America’s support for Israel’s self-defense — it better think about it again.” He concluded, “We have the best Israel-U.S. relationship in our history, and on our side we are certainly determined to continue that.”
Netanyahu responded that Israel was grateful that Trump exited “the dangerous Iran deal and imposing sanctions,” moving the capital to Jerusalem, and “unequivocally backing Israel at the United Nations.” He stated that the United States had supported Israel’s right to self-defense “in word and in deed." He said he was thankful “to know that we have the support and backing of our great friend and ally, the United States of America.”
Cruz and Cotton’s statement echoed the Israeli prime minister’s perspective on the Golan Heights, asserting:
Israel's northern border has become increasingly dangerous in recent weeks with the discovery of Hezbollah’s terror tunnels and Bashar al Assad’s continued efforts to consolidate control of Syria with the assistance of Iranian shock troops. Responding to the threat posed by Iran and its proxies requires ensuring that Israel can defend its territory and its citizens from attacks. To support Israel’s right to self-defense, Washington should take the long overdue step of affirming Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War after Syria and other Arab nations attacked the Jewish state. In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights. Since then, the U.S. has refused to recognize the region as sovereign territory of the Jewish state.
In mid-December, Cotton and Cruz introduced a resolution that urged the Senate to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The resolution stated that the United States would support Israel’s right to defend itself, that it is in the United States’ national security interest to ensure Israel’s security, and that Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would ensure that the Assad regime “faces diplomatic and geopolitical consequences for the killing of civilians, the ethnic cleansing of Syrian Sunnis, and the use of weapons of mass destruction.”