The State Department says that U.S. policy on Israeli control over the contested Golan Heights region "has not changed," following a Washington Free Beacon report on Thursday highlighting how the Biden administration has until this point stopped short of recognizing the Jewish state's sovereign control over the land.
"U.S. policy regarding the Golan has not changed, and reports to the contrary are false," the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs Bureau tweeted on Friday. Prior to that announcement, State Department officials were vague about whether they would continue to uphold a landmark policy by the Trump administration that officially recognized the Golan Heights territory as sovereign Israeli land.
The Free Beacon first requested clarification from the State Department's NEA office on June 8 and received a response on June 22.
When asked to clarify the Biden administration's stance on the territory, a State Department official told the Free Beacon: Secretary of State Antony Blinken "was clear that, as a practical matter, the Golan is very important to Israel's security. As long as [Bashar al-Assad] is in power in Syria, as long as Iran is present in Syria, militia groups backed by Iran, the Assad regime itself—all of these pose a significant security threat to Israel, and as a practical matter, the control of the Golan remains of real importance to Israel's security." Questions about the administration's policy first arose in February, when Blinken offered similar comments in response to questions about the issue.
Those initial statements fell far short of the State Department's Friday tweet on the matter, which marked the first time the current administration acknowledged that U.S. policy has not changed since President Trump's historic action. The clarification also came only after former U.S. diplomats and members of Congress expressed anger at what they described as a non-committal stance that leaves open the possibility the territory's status could change depending on the region's shifting power dynamics.