Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) at NORPAC in 2015.
The bill put forward by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), to push for the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights, has reached a new height in Congress as it’s mulled over by lawmakers following introduction.
Joining Cruz, the bill is also supported by both Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI). It goes against traditional U.S. policy regarding the Golan Heights, which does not recognize Israel’s occupation as legitimate, and seeks to alter that so that referring to Israel will include the territory by default.
The move to introduce the resolution was endorsed by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) almost immediately, while the bill also received support from top Democrats in January, which followed joint statements from Cruz’s office at the time.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) issued a statement today after reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In the last Congress Sens. Cruz and Cotton introduced S.Res.732, a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The statements were in response to a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The justification for the bill primarily relates to a promise by former U.S. President Gerald Ford, and attempts to parallel Israel's control of the Golan Heights with U.S. national security. This attempts to lay the reasoning solely against Iran and Russia due to them helping the Syrian government.
But is there something else driving this push for recognition?
As with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spearheading anti-BDS legislation, Cruz too is backed by Howard Jonas, a billionaire from Newark, New Jersey and the founder of Genie Energy—an Israeli-backed energy corporation exploiting the Golan Heights. Jonas hosted a fundraiser for Cruz during his presidential run.
Jonas at a glance:
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's #2 donor.
- Leveraged AT&T through the Bush 41 White House.
- Sits on the American Committee National Board of the Seryl And Charles Kushner Campus Shaare Zedek Medical Center In Jerusalem.
- Supported Charles Kushner during his criminal trial.
NORPAC, in contrast to AIPAC, is a bipartisan political action committee and supports numerous Democrats and Republicans. Jonas donates to NORPAC, which in-turn donates to both Cotton and Cruz—with Cruz being the 2nd largest recipient behind Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Jonas has also donated to Cruz directly over the years.
In a written response to E&E News at the time, the U.S. State Department stated that it still does not formally recognize Israel's control of the Golan Heights.
The United States does not recognize Israel's claim to the Golan. That position "has not changed," said Noel Clay, a State Department official, in an email. Israel maintains that it annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, after capturing it during the Six-Day War in 1967.
A specific line in the bill referring to "industrial research and development" is suspected to pertain directly to Genie Energy.