Naftali Bennett, Israel’s new education minister, a far-right ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urged world powers on Sunday to recognize Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, saying Syria no longer functions as a country that could reclaim the strategic plateau.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government wields such a slim majority in parliament that Bennett is able to wield a great deal of influence on it and Netanyahu’s policies.
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The remarks by security cabinet minister Naftali Bennett appeared aimed at capitalizing on a global debate over how to handle Syria’s break-up from its four-year-old insurgency, as well as at undermining support for Palestinian statehood on other land Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
“I call on the international community: Stand with us, recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights now, ” Bennett said in a speech to the Herzliya Conference, an annual Israeli policy forum. “Borders are changing daily. Syria, as a state, no longer exists. So this is the time for initiative.”
Netanyahu’s office declined comment on Bennett’s speech.