Syria protests Israeli UN gift
- Wednesday 14 January 2009
Israel sent the bottles of wine, produced in the disputed Golan Heights, region as gifts to members of UN staff.
In letters to the UN press secretary and general assembly president, the Syrian ambassador called the gesture ‘provocative and irresponsible’ and urged UN staff ‘to refrain from accepting these Israeli gifts produced illegally in occupied Syrian territory.’
An Israeli mission spokesperson responded to Syrian criticism by confirming the wine’s origin and adding that ‘The Golan Heights is an integral part of the state of Israel and the wine produced in that region is some of the best in the country. As such, we were pleased to share it with our colleagues.’
The Golan Heights were captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and were later annexed in 1981, a move rejected by the UN.
The future of the area would be a key issue in any plan for reconciliation between Syria and Israel.
The bottles were intended for staff over the recent holiday period. Letters from the Syrian ambassador were dated 31 Dec but were only made public last Friday.