House Republicans said Tuesday that the need for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights has become more urgent now that Iran has solidified its foothold in Syria.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.) said that since the 1967 United Nations Resolution 242, which does not recognize the Golan Heights as official Israeli territory but allows Israel to maintain a military presence there, the situation in the Golan Heights has changed drastically due to the ongoing conflict in Syria.
"With Iran's involvement in the Syrian civil war and Iran's stated intentions to find ways to annihilate Israel, their ability to harm Israel, at least, has changed due to their proximity now to the Golan Heights and their involvement in Syria," Rep. Lamborn said.
Michael Doran, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said the decline of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, Iran's rise to power in the region, and the deterioration of Syria are all indications of a changing situation in the Golan Heights.
"The entity that was in Syria when UN Resolution 242 was issued is no longer there," Doran said. "When we're negotiating with the Assad regime now, behind it is Iran [and Russia.] This is not an entity like Egypt that can make a guarantee about the borders of Syria that we can rely on in any serious respect."
National Security Subcommittee chairman Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) cited Iranian influence throughout the Syrian civil war and fortification of U.S.-Israeli relations as the chief reasons why the U.S. should recognize Israel's sovereignty over the territory.
"Just think how crazy it would be to say that Israel should give the Golan to Assad or to some of these proxies," DeSantis said. "It would be absolute madness."
DeSantis and other Republicans pushed for a resolution to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in May, but House leadership shot down the proposal.
Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer said he does not believe declaring Israeli sovereignty in the Golan would boost Israel's interests in the region.
"Most of these [Arab] countries would be unwilling to come out from behind that curtain in support of a claim of sovereignty," Kurtzer said. "They have their own domestic audiences. I do not suggest that a recognition of sovereignty would bring people into the streets, but it would force Arab states to take positions against Israel at a time when they're working with Israel on Israel's important security interests as well as their own."
Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said the threat to Israel's national security interests has become too great in recent months because of Iran's growing military presence.
"The Iranians are planning on building a very large army," Gold said. "If there is a massive Iranian force in the next five to six years that develops in Syria, Israel's dependence on the Golan Heights and the initial terrain conditions that the Golan presents to Israel will become more vital."