Britain, Netherlands and Ireland have condemned ongoing violations of international law by Israel in the Occupied Syrian Golan that include illegal settlement expansion, natural resource exploitation, land appropriation and home demolition.

Last week, Tobias Ellwood, the British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East and Africa, on the subject of home demolitions, settlement expansion and land appropriation in the Occupied Syrian Golan / Golan Heights, reiterated that the British government regards the Golan Heights ‘to be Occupied Territory’ and continues ‘to call on Israel, as the Occupying Power, to uphold its obligations under international law. This includes abiding by UN Security Council Resolution 497 (1981).’ Minister Ellwood stated that the British government has ‘been clear that Israel must comply with its obligations under international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.’

In November, Bert Koenders, the Dutch Foreign Minister, said that the Dutch government has taken serious notice of signals that Israel is planning to expand on the Golan Heights and to drill for oil. Minister Koenders explained that the Netherlands and the EU consider Israeli settlements in occupied territory to be in violation of international law and are speaking to Israel regarding its settlement policy.

Responding to concerns about the implementation of a new policy of home demolitions in the Occupied Syrian Golan by the Israeli authorities, Charles Flanagan, the Irish Foreign Minister, stated that he has ‘repeatedly made clear my concerns about demolition of homes and seizures of land by the Israeli occupation authorities’ and that ‘all people living under occupation are entitled to respect and protection from occupation authorities.’

On the issue of the planned expansion of the largest illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan by 1600 settlement units, Foreign Minister Flanagan declared the settlement process illegal and described the ‘relentless expansion of illegal Israeli settlements’ as a ‘major impediment to the achievement of peace’ in the region, that ‘call into serious question the intentions of the Israeli Government.’

This condemnation of violations of international law by Israel follow statements earlier in the year from the United States and the European Union rejecting Israel’s illegal claims to the Occupied Syrian Golan.

In response to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments during an Israeli government cabinet meeting held in an illegal settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan, that ‘the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli control’ the U.S. State Department spokesperson, John Kirby, stated ‘that the U.S. position on the status of the Golan Heights is longstanding and is unchanged. Every administration on both sides of the aisle since 1967 has maintained that those territories are not part of Israel’.

European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini reiterated this message the following day, stating that ‘the EU recognises Israel within its pre-1967 borders, whatever the government’s claims on other areas […] and this is a common consolidated position of the European Union and its Member States’.

Al-Marsad welcomes these recent statements from Britain, the Netherlands and Ireland and looks forward to the international community taking concrete action to ensure that Israel complies with its obligations under international law and stops its illegal and discriminatory policies in the Occupied Syrian Golan.

Background information about recent illegal settlement expansion, natural resource exploitation, land appropriation and home demolition is available here and here.

Al-Marsad is an independent, not-for-profit, legal human rights organisation – it is the only human rights organisation operating in the Occupied Syrian Golan. For additional information, please contact or

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someone