The UN Security Council has rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that the annexed Golan Heights in Syria would "forever" remain under Israeli control.
The 15-member council agreed on Tuesday that the status of the Golan, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967, "remains unchanged," Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who holds this month's council presidency said.
Liu recalled a 1981 resolution which states that Israel's "decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights was nul and void and without any international legal effect."
Liu said that the Council members "expressed deep concern" over Netanyahu's remarks from earlier this month that "the Golan Heights will remain in the hands of Israel forever."
Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon issued a statement rejecting the council complaint.
"Holding a meeting on this topic completely ignores the reality in the Middle East," he said. "While thousands of people are being massacred in Syria, and millions of citizens have become refugees, the Security Council has chosen to focus on Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East."
"It's unfortunate that interested parties are attempting to use the council for unfair criticism of Israel," he added.
Netanyahu's April 17 declaration came on the occasion of the first Israeli cabinet session on the Golan since the area was seized from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed in 1981.
Israel's annexation of the Golan has never been recognised by the international community.
Past US-backed Israeli-Syrian peace efforts were predicated on a return of the Golan, where some 23,000 Israelis now live alongside roughly the same number of Druse Arabs loyal to Damascus. Liu said the council supported a negotiated arrangement to settle the issue of the Golan.
Source: Agencies/All Jazeera