TEL AVIV – Days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the Golan Heights is sovereign Israeli territory and should be recognized as such by the international community, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that changing the status of the Golan constitutes a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“The status of the Golan Heights is determined by the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Lavrov was quoted by the Sputnik news agency as telling reporters. “To change this status bypassing the Security Council, I think, would be a direct violation of these resolutions.”
His remarks come amid fraying relations between Moscow and Jerusalem after the downing of a Russian plane last month, which Moscow blamed on Israel, and Russia’s subsequent deployment of the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria. Israel has denied the charge, saying that IAF jets were already back in Israeli airspace and Syria was responsible for the incident, which claimed the lives of fifteen Russian crew members.
On Monday, during a visit to the Golan Heights near the Syrian border, Netanyahu emphasized the strategic importance of the plateau.
“Israel in the Golan Heights is a guarantee for security. Israel in the Golan Heights is a fact the international community must acknowledge,” Netanyahu said.
“As long as it depends on me, the Golan Heights will stay under Israeli sovereignty. Otherwise, Iran and Hezbollah will be sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee,” he added.
“We are witnessing ruthless barbarity across the border (with Syria) and ongoing attempts by Iran and Hezbollah to entrench there. We will stand strong against them. We are thwarting their attempts to establish in Syria and will continue operating with determination to prevent them from transferring advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” Netanyahu went on to say.
“I will discuss the Golan Heights issue in my upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
Netanyahu has not given a date for their meeting, which he said would focus on joint security control in Syria.
“Russia and Israel have established good relations. President Putin understands the importance I attribute to the Golan Heights and to Israel’s heritage,” the prime minister concluded.
Netanyahu on Wednesday said he had told Russia’s vice premier that Moscow’s delivery of the S-300 air defense system to Syria would not deter Israel from operating against Iranian targets in the war-torn country.
The Israeli military would continue its “legitimate activity in Syria against Iran and its proxies, which state their intention to destroy us,” Netanyahu told Maxim Akimov during a meeting in Jerusalem the day before.
On Monday, it emerged that Russia had supplied Syria with three S-300 anti-aircraft battalion sets with eight launchers and more than 100 surface-to-air guided missiles each free of charge.
“On October 1, three battalion sets of S-300PM systems of eight launchers each were delivered to Syria,” a military source told TASS.
“These systems were previously deployed at one of the Russian aerospace forces’ regiments which now uses the S-400 Triumf systems. The S-300 systems underwent capital repairs at Russian defense enterprises, are in good condition and are capable of performing combat tasks,” he said.