US ambassador berates Israeli 'ingratitude' for demanding Golan sovereignty

US ambassador berates Israeli 'ingratitude' for demanding Golan sovereignty
The US envoy in Israel allegedly admonished 'ungrateful' Israeli politicians in secret over their calls for the Trump administration to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights
3 min read
18 June, 2018
Friedman is usually an avid supporter of nationalist Israeli policy [Getty]
Israel's Channel 1 News revealed on Sunday that the American ambassador to Israel David Friedman scolded Knesset members and Israeli ministers in private meetings for their continued calls for the US to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, reportedly demanding they end such requests, according to a Hebrew-language report.

Friedman, known for his staunch right-wing stance including support for illegal settlements, reportedly expressed anger on behalf of the Trump administration, berating the Israelis for their disregard for the US' global interests, which are not merely limited to Israel, calling them "ungrateful".

Friedman was quoted as saying that Israel's concerns are purely domestic and it does not understand that US interests are global.

Read more: Power play and wars of influence: What is the importance of the Golan Heights?

Israel's Minister for Transportation and Intelligence Yisrael Katz, as well as MKs Yoav Kisch and Yair Lapid, have recently made calls for the US to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, as they seek to exploit Trump's pro-Israel stance during his time in office.

Friedman allegedly chided politicians for being ungrateful for demanding the sovereignty immediately after the US made the historic move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving its embassy there.

The report did not specify which politicians Friedman spoke to.

On the contrary, the US Embassy in Israel denied Friedman had such meetings, saying that no new announcements were to be made regarding US policy on the issue of the Golan Heights.

The Israeli report quoted Katz as saying: "American recognition of Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights is in both the Israeli and US interests to strengthen Israel's position in a confrontation with Syria and Iran," pointing to the recent efforts to increase Israeli defences in the territory.

Read more: US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights would spell disaster

The Golan Heights - constituting the southwersterly tip of Syria - was captured by Israel in 1967 and has remained under Israeli occupation since. The elevated territory, which is used as a buffer and observation point, carries much strategic importance for Israel, especially since Iranian forces fighting in Syria began encroaching towards the Israeli border zone.

In May, Katz had called the present "the perfect time to make such a move," adding that "the most painful response you can give the Iranians is to recognize Israel's Golan sovereignty - with an American statement, a presidential proclamation."

At the end of May, the US House of Representatives scrapped a Republican proposal for recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan due to opposition from both party leadership and from the White House itself.