The United States does not consider the Golan Heights to be a part of Israel, State Department spokesperson John Kirby stressed on Monday, a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed the Golan Heights "will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty."
"The U.S. position on the issue is unchanged," Kirby told reporters during a daily briefing at the State Department in Washington, according to Haaretz.
"This position was maintained by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Those territories are not part of Israel and the status of those territories should be determined through negotiations. The current situation in Syria does not allow this," he added.
On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet held a special meeting on the Golan Heights and Netanyahu opened the meeting with a declaration that “the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli control."
The Prime Minister also called upon the international community to recognize Israel’s control of the territory.
Kirby’s comment followed a condemnation earlier on Monday by Germany, which called the move a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.
"It's a basic principle of international law and the UN charter that no state can claim the right to annex another state's territory just like that," Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, said.
Following Netanyahu’s declaration, Syria quickly responded by condemning it and pledging to “take back the Golan” with the help of the United Nations.
Also on Monday, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi denounced Netanyahu’s remarks as an "escalation".
Arabi, the secretary general of the pan-Arab bloc headquartered in Cairo, said Netanyahu's statement "was an new escalation that represents a brazen violation of international law."