MIDEAST ISRAEL SYRIA TOURISM: A sign showing the distances to different locations is seen at an army post from the 1967 war at Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights, overlooking Syria, Monday, Aug. 21, 2006. Speaking hours after an Israeli Cabinet minister called for renewal of negotiations with Syria and said Israel should give back the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday ruled out a resumption of peace talks at this time, denouncing Damascus as the "single most aggressive member of the axis of evil." Israel accuses Syria, along with Iran, of arming and supporting Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas who fired nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel in the 34-day war that ended last week. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Damascus - Syria on Thursday condemned Israeli drilling for oil in the occupied Golan Heights as a “flagrant violation” of UN Security Council resolutions and called on the United Nations to intervene.

The foreign ministry lodged a protest with the UN against what it branded an “illegal and flagrant violation of Security Council Resolution 497” urging Israel to rescind its annexation of the Golan, state news agency SANA reported.

It said the move “aims to cement the occupation and annexation” of the territory and accused Israel of “exploiting” the conflict in Syria “to perpetuate the occupation of Syrian territory and plunder its wealth.”

According to Israeli media, Israel last week gave the green light for oil drilling in the Golan Heights, halted two decades ago during peace negotiations in the region.

Israel seized the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the international community.

There have been several incidents of gunfire or mortar shells landing on the Israeli-held side of the Golan, prompting troops to respond with artillery in November, the first such case of Israeli fire at the Syrian military since 1973. - Sapa-AFP