‘Israel will never leave Golan Heights, no matter what’

Israel will never leave the Golan Heights, no matter what diplomatic settlement is reached in Syria, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold told a gathering in Jerusalem on Sunday of Israeli ambassadors from around the world.

Israel took control of the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the area in 1981, a move not recognized internationally.

Regarding the ongoing civil war in Syria, Gold reiterated that Israel has no desire to become involved in the conflict.

On the Palestinian issue, Gold said, “Israel will not return to the 1967 borders. It won’t happen. Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] prefers a unilateral strategy over negotiations with Israel. [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry tried to achieve a breakthrough. In 2014, he even presented a framework agreement, but Abbas rejected it.”

Referring to the regional situation in the Middle East, Gold said Israel has mutual interests “with a number of moderate Arab states.”

“It is possible to reach agreements and codes of conduct with these countries,” Gold said. “It must be decided who is in the tent and who is not.”

On the question of which poses a greater threat, Iran or the Islamic State group, Gold said, “Iran is more dangerous.”

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit, also addressed the gathering of ambassadors. Mordechai said it was unclear who would succeed Abbas as head of the PA in the future. He warned, however, that those jockeying to replace Abbas are finding it beneficial to appear tougher and more outspoken against Israel.

Speaking about the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism, Mordechai said, “Operating without a guiding hand is what characterizes lone terrorists.” Mordechai noted, however, that attackers are being influenced by anti-Israel incitement.