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. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday that Israel would never relinquish the Golan Heights, in a signal to Russia and the United States that the strategic plateau should be excluded from any deal on Syria's future.Urging the international community to recognize Israel's claim on the territory, Netanyahu said he told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Saturday night that it was doubtful Syria can return to what it was.The timing was seen by some political commentators as linked to talks Netanyahu is due to hold with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Syria, where Moscow's military and diplomatic interventions are crucial.Though Russia is committed to keeping Syria intact under Assad, it has not publicly broached the future of the Golan.
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