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The Golan Heights (Arabic: هضبة الجولان‎‎ Haḍbatu 'l-Jawlān or مرتفعات الجولان Murtafaʻātu l-Jawlān, Hebrew: רמת הגולן, Ramat HaGolan 11x11px (audio) (help·info)), or simply the Golan or the Syrian Golan,[1] is a region in the Levant. The western two-thirds of the Golan Heights are occupied and administrated by Israel,[2][3] whereas the eastern third is controlled by Syria, with the UNDOF maintaining a buffer zone in between, to implement the ceasefire of the Purple Line.

The region defined as the Golan Heights is different in different disciplines:

The earliest evidence of human habitation dates to the Upper Paleolithic period.[4] According to the Bible, an Amorite Kingdom in Bashan was conquered by Israelites during the reign of King Og.[5] Throughout the Old Testament period, the Golan was "the focus of a power struggle between the Kings of Israel and the Aramaeans who were based near modern-day Damascus."[6] The Itureans, an Arab or Aramaic people, settled there in the 2nd century BCE and remained until the end of the Byzantine period.[7][8][9] Organized Jewish settlement in the region came to an end in 636 CE when it was conquered by Arabs under Umar ibn al-Khattāb.[10] In the 16th century, the Golan was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and was part of the Vilayet of Damascus until it was transferred to French control in 1918. When the mandate terminated in 1946, it became part of the newly independent Syrian Arab Republic.

Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967.[2] It was captured during the 1967 Six-Day War, establishing the Purple Line.[11]

On 19 June 1967, the Israeli cabinet voted to return the Golan to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement, although this was rejected after the Khartoum Resolution of 1 September 1967.[12][13] In the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Syria tried but failed to recapture the Golan, Israel agreed to return about 5% of the territory to Syrian civilian control. This part was incorporated into a demilitarised zone that runs along the ceasefire line and extends eastward. This strip is under the military control of UNDOF.

Construction of Israeli settlements began in the remainder of the territory held by Israel, which was under military administration until Israel passed the Golan Heights Law extending Israeli law and administration throughout the territory in 1981.[14] This move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UN Resolution 497,[3][15] which said that "the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect." Israel states it has a right to retain the Golan, citing the text of UN Resolution 242, which calls for "safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force".[16] However, the international community reject Israeli claims to title to the territory and regards it as sovereign Syrian territory.[2][17][18] That said, the atrocities of the Syrian Civil War and the rise of the so-called Islamic State group, which at times has controlled what was the Syrian-administered Golan have added a new twist to the issue. In 2015, it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Barack Obama to recognize Israeli claims to the territory because of these recent ISIS actions and the fact that modern Syria has likely "disintegrated" beyond the point of reunification.[19][20] The White House dismissed Netanyahu's suggestion, stating that the president continues to support UN resolutions 242 and 497, and any alterations of this policy could strain American alliances with western-backed Syrian rebel groups.[21]

Historically, Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and Ehud Olmert each stated that they were willing to exchange the Golan for peace with Syria. Later, in 2010, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told Syria to abandon its "dreams" of recovering the Golan Heights.[22] Approximately 10% of Syrian Golan Druze have accepted Israeli citizenship.[23] According to the CIA World Factbook, as of 2010, "there are 41 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights."[24]


  1. "Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan". Human Rights Council. United Nations General Assembly. 27 February 2009. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. 3.0 3.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named korman_condemned
  4. Tina Shepardson. Stones and Stories: Reconstructing the Christianization of the Golan, Biblisches Forum, 1999.
  5. Dt 3:1, Dt 3:2, Dt 3:3, Dt 3:4, Dt 3:5, Dt 3:6, Dt 3:7
  6. Template:Cite web
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  13. Herzog, Chaim, The Arab Israeli Wars, New York: Random House (1982) p.190-191
  14. Golan Heights Law, MFA.
  15. UN Security Council Resolution 497
  16. Y.Z Blum "Secure Boundaries and Middle East Peace in the Light of International Law and Practice" (1971) pages 24–46
  17. Occupied territory:
  18. Korman, Sharon. The right of conquest: the acquisition of territory by force in international law and practice, Oxford University Press, 1996. pg. 265. Template:ISBN. "The continued occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights is recognized by many states as valid and consistent with the provisions of the United Nations Charter, on a self-defence basis. Israel, on this view, would be entitled to exact as a condition of withdrawal from the territory the imposition of security measures of an indefinite character--such as perpetual demilitarization, or the emplacement of a United Nations force--which would ensure, or tend to ensure, that the territory would not be used against it for aggression on future occasions. But the notion that Israel is entitled to claim any status other than that of belligerent occupant in the territory which it occupies, or to act beyond the strict bounds laid down in the Fourth Geneva Convention, has been universally rejected by the international community--no less by the United States than by any other state."
  19. Template:Cite web
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  23. At a Glance: The Golan Heights World News Australia, 6 June 2011
  24. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named CIA_World_Factbook

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Golan Heights, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (view authors). Wikipedia logo