On Thursday the Washington Free Beacon published a story with the headline: “Biden Admin Walks Back US Recognition of Golan Heights as Israeli Territory.” This set off a wave of rumors and follow-up reports, culminating in an official Biden administration response on Friday.
The initial report had stated: “The Biden administration is walking back the United States’ historic recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the contested Golan Heights region along Israel’s northern border, a significant blow to the Jewish state and one of the Trump administration’s signature foreign policy decisions.” But the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Department tweeted in response as the claim began to spread: “US policy regarding the Golan has not changed, and reports to the contrary are false.”
And separately a State Department official told Middle East Eye that “Our policy on Golan has not changed.”
Perhaps most interesting in all this is that the original report forced a statement from the Biden administration affirming that it intends to keep yet another controversial Trump policy that the former president was initially fiercely criticized for, particularly from Democratic circles. It’s increasingly apparent that when it comes to Trump’s most previously contested foreign policies, Biden is now actively upholding and defending them.
Recall that in March 2019 Trump changed the longstanding US policy, signing a proclamation of formal US recognition over the Golan Heights.
Netanyahu had said at the time “Israel has never had a better friend than you.” This was also amid the big move to recognize Jerusalem and the Israeli capital, which involved moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv.
Months ago, soon after Biden took office, among the first things that his team did was to assure the world that it would not reverse a this key Trump policy vis-a-vis Israel, as Roll Call reported at the time:
…President Joe Biden intends to keep the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, where it was relocated during the Trump administration. The issue of where to locate the embassy has been a fixture of negotiations over Israeli and Palestinian territory and authority for decades.
A White House spokesperson confirmed to CQ Roll Call the administration’s intentions, following up on a query from last Friday’s White House press briefing.
“The U.S. position is that our embassy will remain in Jerusalem, which we recognize as Israel’s capital,” the spokesperson said. “The ultimate status of Jerusalem is a final status issue which will need to be resolved by the parties in the context of direct negotiations.”
U.S. policy regarding the Golan has not changed, and reports to the contrary are false.
— U.S. State Dept – Near Eastern Affairs (@StateDept_NEA) June 25, 2021
The Golan issue in particular stems from a cross-administration policy which has sought to deny Syria’s Assad full control over a sovereign state.
The progressive wing of the Democratic party had urged Biden to reverse course on Trump’s major Israel policies; however, the White House appears to have now given its definitive answer that nothing will fundamentally change from the prior administration.
Via Zero Hedge