Middle East

Netanyahu says Israel will never withdraw from Golan Heights

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, poses with ministers prior to the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Sunday, April 17, 2016. IIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his country will never withdraw from the war won Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, poses with ministers prior to the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Sunday, April 17, 2016. IIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his country will never withdraw from the war won Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Sunday, April 17, 2016. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his country will never withdraw from the war won Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Sunday, April 17, 2016. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his country will never withdraw from the war won Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, poses with ministers prior to the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Sunday, April 17, 2016. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his country will never withdraw from the war won Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, poses with ministers prior to the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Sunday, April 17, 2016. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his country will never withdraw from the war won Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Israel's prime minister says the country will never withdraw from the Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands.

In a ceremonial Cabinet meeting in the Golan, Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he doubts Syria will ever return to what it was before the devastating civil war. He said he would not oppose diplomatic efforts to stabilize Syria so long as they don't come at the expense of Israel's security. Netanyahu added that, regardless, the border would not change and it was time for the world to finally recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan.

Israel captured Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in 1981. An Israeli withdrawal was long seen as a key to any Israel-Syria peace agreement.