Graham, Friedman tour Gaza terror tunnel, Golan Heights; Graham: I am standing on one of the most important pieces of ground in the State of Israel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu led a tour of the Golan Heights to both US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and US Senator Lindsey Graham on Monday as part of continued efforts to gain US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the region and prevent “Iran on the shores of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)”. Graham is currently in Israel, having met with the prime minister and ambassador in Jerusalem before a tour by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of a Hamas terror tunnel from the Gaza Strip, followed by a tour in the Golan Heights Monday afternoon.
Referring to the officials as “two of the greatest friends of Israel,” Netanyahu stated on Monday to Senator Graham, “this is not your first time in the Golan Heights, but I think every time you come here you can appreciate the strategic importance of Israel being on the Golan Heights. And the fact that we’re creating here new life, green life [and] a future which is very different obviously from what existed before.”
The prime minister spoke of Israel’s ancient ties to the Golan Heights, describing “The Golan has always been part of Israel, from the earliest days of our history and has certainly been a part of the State of Israel since 1967, and more recently since 1981,” in reference to the Six-Day War and annexation that followed. Netanyahu reiterated, “The Golan is part of Israel; the Golan must stay part of Israel forever. I think it’s very important that the international community recognize this fact and accept it, and most especially, our great friend the United States.”
He thanked the senator for his ongoing support of Israel, highlighting his advocacy and work for the Jewish state “over successive administrations.” He told the senator, “We have no greater friend and we appreciate it…”
Graham emphasized the Trump Administration’s commitment to Israel’s security, stating to Netanyahu and the people of Israel, “What’s best for America is for a safe, secure and prosperous Israel. Why? Common values, common enemies, and from a military point of view, the best friend the United States could possibly ever have in a troubled region.”
The senator confirmed his commitment to continue working alongside Senator Ted Cruz to “start an effort to recognize the Golan as part of the State of Israel now and forever,” referring to their lobbying efforts in Congress, as well as the recent bill submitted to the US Senate and House of Representatives. He also spoke about Israel’s history in the Golan Heights and its defense against its enemies in taking the region. He asserted, “Israel occupied this territory by fighting for its survival. This territory was taken by military force because it was used as a launching point to attack the State of Israel. This territory has a rich Jewish history. Strategically, I am standing on one of the most important pieces of ground in the State of Israel.”
United States Republican Congressmen Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher introduced another bill to the US Senate and House of Representatives calling on the United States to officially recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory last month. The bill calls for the United States “to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and to promote and conduct joint projects with Israel on the Golan Heights.” It also requests that “Any reference to ‘Israel’ in any existing or future act of Congress relating to appropriations or foreign commerce, including customs and international trade, shall be interpreted to include the Golan Heights.”
In January of this year, the United States for the first time opposed a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly calling on Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria. Of the 9 resolutions passed against the State of Israel that month, only the United States and Israel voted against the resolution on “occupied Syrian Golan” with 151 votes in favor and 14 abstentions.