Secretary of State Tony Blinken declined Monday to confirm that the U.S. recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, when asked directly by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) about the issue at the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Israel captured the area in the Six Day War in 1967, after the Syrian military had used it to shell Israeli civilians in the Galilee. Israel was prepared to give most of it back to Syria in peace talks in the 1990s, but was rejected by the regime.
The rise of the so-called “Islamic State,” or ISIS, a decade ago, and the subsequent intervention of Iran in the Syrian Civil War, cemented the importance of Israeli control over the Golan Heights as a strategic buffer against invasion.
President Donald Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in 2019. In gratitude, Israel named a town in the Golan after him, “Trump Heights.” Blinken appeared to walk back that commitment, however, in February.
Zeldin asked Blinken directly about the issue, and the two had the following exchange during Monday’s testimony: