Israel seeking U.S. recognition of its claim to Golan Heights

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit Israeli-occupied Golan Heights

In a report by the State Department meant to detail data regarding human rights around the globe in 2018, the USA has chose to alter the words it uses to describe the situation in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel, opting for what seems to be more neutral language.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said that United States dropping the term "occupation" from the occupied Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan Heights is "a continuation of the hostile approach of the American administration toward our Palestinian people and is contrary to all United Nations resolutions".

The document also suggests that the entire city of Jerusalem is a part of Israel.

Israel says a previous such unit was established in the Syrian Golan under the command of Samir Kantar and Jihad Mughniyeh.

A state department official, Michael Kozak, sought to downplay the significance of the report's phrasing, saying the designation of territories as occupied is a "legal status issue", not a human rights matter.

The US military drew up charges against Daqduq and appeared to be trying to have him extradited to America.

When asked about the change on such a sensitive Middle East subject, a senior USA official told reporters in Washington "there's no change in our outlook or our policy vis-a-vis these territories and the need for a negotiated settlement there".

He added: "Those American descriptions won't change the reality that the Palestinian territory that has been occupied since 1967".

The move came amid intensified efforts by Israel to win USA recognition of its claim to sovereignty over the strategic plateau it captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and effectively annexed in 1981, a step not recognized internationally.

The Israel Defense Forces announced on Wednesday that it recently uncovered a Hezbollah terror network on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. "We regard the Golan Heights as occupied territory and we can not support the Israeli occupation".

Trump moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem a year ago, sparking global rebukes, including from Washington's and Israel's allies in Europe.

The release of the images comes the same day as the Israeli army revealed that the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has recruited a number of villagers residing in the Syrian Golan Heights in recent months to make preparations and carry out intelligence gathering for terrorist operations on the border with Israel.

Months later, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said Israel will hold on to the Syrian territory indefinitely.

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