In response to President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, Syria's envoy to the United States suggested that the president instead offer Israelis the U.S. state of South Carolina, calling it territory over which Trump actually has sovereignty, Newsweek reports.
The envoy, Bashar al-Jaafari, made his remarks at a Security Council session organized Thursday to address the recent developments around Golan Heights. Jaafari called Trump's edict null and void, and characterized it as undermining international rule of law and eroding the integrity of the United Nations. Syria's representative then indicated strongly that "the Syrian Arab Golan" remained his country's territory and vowed that it would be returned to them.
At that point, Jaafari made his own proposal regarding a compromise on the disputed territory.
"America is a wide and vast country, so why doesn't it give up a state or two of the United States to the Israelis, for example, North Carolina or South Carolina?" he asked. "South Carolina is nice, because it's the land of Senator Lindsey Graham, who supported President Trump in his actions."
Danny Danon, Israel's representative at the United Nations, laughed and shook his head during the remarks.
Trump's decision around Golan Heights did indeed come shortly after Graham visited the area, with the Senator specifically calling for the U.S. to recognize it as part of Israel. The following Monday, Trump made the decision public during a visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Trump's action was quickly condemned by the international community, who cited United Nations resolutions that still define Golan Heights as part of Syria since the Six-Day War in 1967. Countries in the Middle East were especially uncomfortable and vocally critical of the announcement.
Trump's decision followed an increasingly supportive posture toward Israel, with the most notable other decision being Trump's call to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in defiance of Palestinian claims to the contrary, as well as United Nations resolutions acknowledging the city as disputed. Trump has also withdrawn the U.S. from a number of United Nations groups, citing biases against Israel. Notable groups from which the U.S. has withdrawn include the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Jaafari, in his role representing Syria, has pledged to push back on this and similar moves from Trump.
"[Syria] won't be part of some damned and wicked deal, or a pawn to be exchanged for support in your electoral games," he said.