(JTA) — The United States will vote “No” on a U.N. resolution criticizing Israel’s control of the Golan Heights rather than abstain as it has in previous years.
Nikki Haley, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced her country’s decision in a statement Thursday about a General Assembly vote scheduled for Friday.
“In previous years, the United States has abstained from voting on this resolution,” she wrote about the annual passing of a draft resolution titled “The Occupied Syrian Golan.” However, “given the resolution’s anti-Israel bias, as well as the militarization of the Syrian Golan border, and a worsening humanitarian crisis, this year the United States has decided to vote no.
“If this resolution ever made sense, it surely does not today. The resolution is plainly biased against Israel. Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone.”
Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing them from Syria in the 1967 war. Syrian troops had used the volcanic plateau frequently as an elevated position to fire on Israeli troops and settlements.
In 2011, Syrian President Bashar Assad saw the eruption of a civil war, stoked by sectarian hatred between his country’s Sunni majority and his ruling Alawite minority — a group with Shiite affiliations — and its Druze allies. He had lost control of most of Syria’s territory until regaining much of it thanks to Russian military intervention and Iranian support.
Nearly half a million people have died in the war, and millions have been injured and displaced.
“The destructive influence of the Iranian regime inside Syria presents major threats to international security,” Haley said. “ISIS and other terrorist groups remain in Syria. And this resolution does nothing to bring any parties closer to a peace agreement.”
The United States has voted previously against U.N. resolutions singling out Israel over its control of the Golan.
In 2016, under then-President Barack Obama, the United States voted “No” with Canada, Israel and three Pacific nations that called for peace talks between Syria and Israel and Lebanon and Israel to be restarted immediately, and for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. The resolution passed by a large majority.