World must find way to end Israeli occupation of Golan: Syria UN envoy
Syria’s envoy to the UN has called on the international community to draw up an effective mechanism to end Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and its continued exploitation of the natural resources of the territory.
Speaking at a UN Security Council session on Tuesday, Bashar al-Ja’afari said Israeli forces continue to arbitrarily detain Syrian nationals and loot water and petroleum resources in the Golan Heights in flagrant violation of international law and regulations.
He urged the UN to force Israel to end its occupation of the Golan Heights and withdraw from the area in compliance with the Security Council Resolution 497, which was adopted unanimously on December 17, 1981, and which declares Tel Aviv’s annexation of Golan as “null and void and without international legal effect.”
The top Syrian diplomat also pointed to Israel’s land expropriation policies in the Golan Heights, arguing that Israeli officials have created 750 farms and accommodated 90 settler households there since the beginning of the current year, and are planning to lodge 150 families every year in a bid to change the demographic identity of the area.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied and annexed it.
Ja’afari further criticized the international community’s inaction toward Israel’s subversive acts, and its support for al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.
He also lashed out at some European countries over their support for Takfiri terrorism, highlighting that they have fallen victim to acts of terror themselves.
Russia ‘to continue assisting Syria in terror fight’
Meanwhile, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, has said his country is set to provide Syria with all necessary assistance in the campaign against terrorism.
“For our part, we are going to continue providing the Syrian government with assistance in fighting terrorist groups, led by Daesh and the Nusra Front. Undoubtedly, there should be neither delays nor concessions in this struggle,” Churkin said at the Tuesday’s Security Council meeting.
He further described the free movement of terrorists through borders, the flow of weapons and money to terrorist outfits as well as access to chemical warfare agents as the main challenges in the anti-terror fight.
Syria UN envoy ‘shirking responsibilities’
Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticized UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, saying the envoy has failed to fulfill his responsibilities and convene a new round of peace talks for Syria.
“We are concerned that the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has been shying away from his duties recently, not calling another round of intra-Syrian talks, and starting to make public statements on the need for Russia and the United States to agree on how to proceed with the political settlement in Syria, and then the UN will convene a new round of intra-Syrian talks. This is the wrong approach,” Lavrov said.
“Replacing the intra-Syrian dialogue with a Russia-US duet is impossible and I believe this is a very harmful signal that is being sent to the irreconcilable opposition in the so-called High Negotiations Committee, which just keeps voicing ultimatums on [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s resignation and some sort of deadlines. This is not helping the case,” Lavrov said, referring to a Saudi-backed group of Syrians opposing Assad.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011.
De Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.