Israel cabinet to meet for first time on Golan

Israel’s cabinet is to hold its weekly meeting Sunday on the Golan Heights for the first time in an effort to underline the country’s determination never to relinquish the strategic ridge despite anticipated international pressure to do so.

According to reports on Israeli media, a draft agreement aimed at settling the Syrian civil war currently being laid out with the support of the US, Russia and other major world powers, specifies that the Golan Heights is Syrian territory and must be returned to Syria.

Public radio said Netanyahu was taking the step to make the international community understand that an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan was “in no way on the agenda, neither now nor in the future”.

Israel captured 1,200 square kilometers of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

According to media reports, Netanyahu fears Israel could come under pressure to return the Golan as part of a future peace deal for war-torn Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to confirm or deny the reports.

Earlier this week, Israel’s Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu discussed the issue in a call with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The report also said he plans to discuss the matter with President Vladimir Putin when he travels to Russia next week.