US 'not discussing recognition' of Israel's Golan Heights occupation
The United States is not discussing possible recognition of Israel's annexation of the occupied Golan Heights, US National Security Adviser John Bolton has said.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu raised the issue in his first White House meeting with US President Donald Trump in February 2017.
Several Israeli officials have subsequently said the issue was being discussed at various levels of the US administration and Congress, with one minister stating in May that the US could recognise Israel's annexation of the occupied territory within months.
"I've heard the idea being suggested but there's no discussion of it, no decision within the US government," Bolton told Reuters during a visit to Israel.
"Obviously we understand the Israeli claim that it has annexed the Golan Heights - we understand their position - but there's no change in the US position for now."
Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognised by the international community.
Some 20,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 30 settlements in the occupied territory. Around 20,000 Syrians, mostly Druze, also live in the area
In recent years, Israel has argued that the civil war in Syria justifies its control over the strategic plateau as a bulwark against Iranian expansion in the region.
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