Donald Trump announces U.S. should recognise Israeli annexation of Golan Heights

Leroy Wright
March 22, 2019

President Donald Trump says it is time the U.S. recognises Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967.

Pompeo had arrived in Kuwait late Monday as part of a tour that is set to include visits to Lebanon and Israel to reinforce "the value of our partnerships, as well as the importance of security and economic cooperation in achieving regional stability and countering the Iranian regime's malign activities", a State Department statement read. Trump tweeted, without providing any other details. Pompeo was asked about the issue, but declined to answer.

In the past, the United States government had sought to avoid tacitly recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the parts of Jerusalem it took control of in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Earlier this month, a senior USA administration official told reporters in Washington that there was "no change in [US] outlook or our policy vis-a-vis these territories and the need for a negotiated settlement there".

It is hard to see President Trump's tweet as representing anything other than a pre-election gift to Israel's prime minister, who is compromised by legal investigations into allegations of corruption and facing perhaps the most difficult campaign of his tenure.

Netanyahu has been pressing for the United States to recognise its claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights and raised that possibility in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017. "It is in the hands of Israel and will always remain in the hands of Israel", he said at the time. He recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and the Trump administration moved the USA embassy to Jerusalem in May.

"We call upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to announce as early as this evening that his agreement to the establishment of Palestine in the Bar-Ilan speech is null and void", Bennet said referring to a 2009 speech where Netanyahu laid out his acceptance of the two-state solution.

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When Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, he said it did not determine the city's final borders.

There are more than 30 Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights, according to the BBC, and roughly 20,000 Syrians still living in the area.

Trump remains popular in Israel, and his advisers have been developing a Middle East peace proposal for release sometime after the Israeli elections.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, wrote on Twitter that he supported recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and that he and Sen.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham earlier this month also vowed to push for the USA to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

This was echoed by the far-right Union of Right-Wing Parties, which thanked Trump, but warned the Israeli public not to let the move blind them to the dangers of Trump's expected peace plan.

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