The Golan Heights is a key strategic position and has good water resources. Israel captured the territory from Syria in 1967 and annexed it in 1981. Some Israeli settlers live here and it has been extensively developed for tourism.
Syria refuses to countenance any kind of peace deal or normalisation with Israel unless it hands over Golan to Syrian control.
No Israeli leader has yet said he will return the territory to Syria. However, under Mr Netanyahu's predecessor, Shimon Peres, it was widely reported that Israel had agreed in principle to some form of Israeli withdrawal from Golan.
When he took up the reigns of office, Mr Netanyahu felt justified in not committing himself to an agreement of a previous Israeli government, particularly as there was no document or signature to bear witness to such an agreement. Since then the Syrian track has remained in paralysis.
Ehud Barak appears ready to trade a withdrawal from the Golan Heights for stringent security guarantees to protect Israel's northern border.