Trump says the USA should recognize Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights

Israeli soldiers take positions near the border between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as seen from the Syrian village of Beer Ajam

Trump says the USA should recognize Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights

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

A State Department source said there were no signs of a coming shift, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered no indication that the administration was reviewing its policy during his visit to the region this week, telling reporters in Kuwait on Wednesday that US policy "had not changed".

"I know that you and the president have an outstanding working relationship", Pompeo said, addressing Netanyahu. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Christian leaders rushed to praise Trump for the declaration.

"First, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the USA embassy here, then he got out of the disastrous Iran treaty, and now recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights", said Netanyahu. It's unclear whether Trump's policy shift went through official US government channels, or was simply a one-off move from the unpredictable president.

Pompeo, in his remarks, said the Israeli people should have confidence that Trump - who is due to present a peace plan after the Israeli ballot - will maintain a "close bond" with Israel.

"At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights".

Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011, there was an uneasy stand-off between Israeli and Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

What is the Golan Heights?

A Golan Heights force was set up after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war to monitor the ceasefire. Iran, which has deepened its presence in Syria during the war, and its terror proxies such as Hezbollah poses a serious threat to Israel from Syria. Lindsey Graham visited the Golan Heights with Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

"You could imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan", he said.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Pompeo's visit added additional obstacles to peace hopes.

Companion resolutions calling on the United States to follow through with this recognition were introduced last month by Cruz, in addition to Sen.

Indeed, the USA president has recently called on Jewish-Americans to abandon the Democratic Party, pointing to his own staunchly pro-Israel policies, including moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

The administration has been considering recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of SC.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) applauded the announcement as part of a larger agenda by the Trump administration. "It's remarkable. So, we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years ago and 2,000 years ago, if I have the history just right".

It also noted that the USA clearly violates worldwide law and a number of United Nations resolutions, in particular, Resolution 497, in which Israel's intentions to establish its laws in the Golan Heights are considered invalid and illegal.

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), called Trump's Golan tweet a clear attempt to intervene in Israeli politics and provide a boost to Netanyahu. It later annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem in moves never recognised by the global community. A new book titled Kushner Inc gives insight into the close relationship between the Trump family and Netanyahu and why the Prime Minister might be calling the shots when it comes to U.S. policy concerning Israel. Once again, this administration is playing risky partisan games with US foreign policy and the US-Israel relationship.

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