Trump says USA will recognize Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights

A Palestinian protester prepares to throw a firebomb during clashes with Israeli security forces in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem
Greece-Cyprus-Israel summit in Jerusalem
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22 March, 2019

At the meeting, the two men discussed the buildup of Hezbollah terror networks along Israel's northern border with Syria on the Golan Heights.

Richard Haass, a former senior State Department official who is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a tweet he strongly disagreed with Trump's Golan decision.

Members of Netanyahu's ruling Likud party were quick to praise the prime minister for the shift in United States policy.

The announcement marks a diplomatic coup for Netanyahu, two weeks before elections, and four days before he is due to visit Washington.

Many of the Golan Druze continue to swear loyalty to Syria, partly out of fear that if the Golan were ever returned to Damascus they could face reprisals from the Assad regime if they were seen to have collaborated with Israel.

"If some (thing) will happen from Lebanon toward Israel, we will hold Lebanon as the responsible (party)", Rivlin said.

Netanyahu thanked the United States president for his decision to "boldly recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights", on his official Twitter page.

A recent state department human rights report broke with past U.S. practice referring to the Golan, which Israel captured in 1967, as "Israeli-controlled" rather than "Israeli-occupied".

Greece-Cyprus-Israel summit in Jerusalem
Trump announces US will recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

Pompeo and Netanyahu prayed at the wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, before depositing written prayers in its crevices and then touring nearby tunnels and synagogue.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981, a step tantamount to annexation.

"But now he did something of equal historic importance - he recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and he did so at a time when Iran is trying to use Syria as a platform to attack and destroy Israel".

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. Netanyahu raised the possibility of U.S. recognition in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017.

Netanyahu said he was looking forward to making the relationship "even stronger" during the visit.

Neither were accompanied by Israeli leaders during the hugely symbolic visits.

That's a boost for Netanyahu, who is heading into a general election while plagued by corruption investigations.

The Golan announcement could help Trump improve his standing in America's pro-Israel camp, especially among his base of evangelical Christians, just ahead of next week's annual convention in Washington of AIPAC, the nation's most influential pro-Israel lobbying group.

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