Dem Reps Signal Support for U.S. Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

Jerrold Nadler / Getty
February 4, 2019

Two Democratic lawmakers from New York  signaled on Monday that they might support the United States officially recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

"The only thing the Golan has ever been used for by the Syrians is to bombard Israel," Rep. Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) told Jewish Insider. "They can’t have that again. It’s unsafe."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) said she would support U.S. recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the region if Democratic leadership is on board.

"If our leadership supports it, I don’t see what the problem is," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) said. "So I will be supporting it, but only if it goes through the [House Foreign Affairs Committee] and is supported by the committee."

Israel has maintained control over the contested region for 51 years after taking control in 1967 during the Six Day War. Israel defended itself during the conflict from attacks brought by Syria and other Arab nations in the region. In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights. Since then, the U.S. has refused to recognize the region as sovereign territory of Jewish state.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) introduced a resolution in December of last year that would have the Senate recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed the matter with John Bolton, the U.S. national security advisor, when the two met last month.

Democratic support for the measure appears to be growing. Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last month that he supports the measure.

"I think that Golan Heights is part of Israel and should remain part of Israel for strategic purposes. I also think that because of the situation it would be good for the United States, too. Whoever may take over Syria may try to recapture the Golan Heights," Engel said.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) also said in January, "Israel should maintain control of the Golan Heights."

It is unclear if Democratic leadership in the House would move forward with such a measure because of an increasingly hostile view some young Democrats have of Israel. Two new members of the Democratic Caucus, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.