Trump says U.S. will recognize Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights

US President Donald Trump speaks after touring the Lima Army Tank Plant at Joint Systems Manufacturing in Lima Ohio

US President Donald Trump in Ohio yesterday

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

President Trump wrote on Twitter that Israel should have full sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The U.S. refers to the Golan Heights as an area "under Israeli control", instead of "occupied territory", for the first time in a human rights report issued today by the State Department.

It also came on the same day the White House announced the two leaders will meet Monday and Tuesday in Washington, where Netanyahu will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In 2017, Trump also went against decades of practice in recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, rather than the previously accepted Tel Aviv.

A spokesman for Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called that decision 'a continuation of the hostile approach of the American administration toward our Palestinian people'.

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And with them, Trump has made it clear he wants to "shore up" support for Netanyahu, who is heading into the election on shaky ground, Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center Washington DC, told MEE.

Syria insists that the part of the Golan held by Israel remains occupied territory and has demanded its return. Thank you President Trump!

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touches the stones of the Western Wall during a visit to the site in Jerusalem's Old City, March 21, 2019.

Mr Trump's move was his most overt yet to help Mr Netanyahu, who faces an April 9 election and is locked in a closely contested race while battling corruption allegations, which he denies.

UN Security Council resolution 497, adopted unanimously in 1981, declared Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights "null and void and without global legal effect".

"With such threats a daily reality of Israeli life, we maintain our unparalleled commitment to Israel's security and firmly support your right to defend yourself", he said.

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Trump's foreign policy team did not respond favorably to similar requests regarding the Golan Heights a year ago, expressing frustration with Israeli officials for pressuring them over a major policy change so shortly after the administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Previously, the USA held that the status of the city would be determined in peace talks.

In a press conference with Pompeo, Netanyahu accused Iran of trying to set a terrorist network to target Israel in the Golan Heights.

"First, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the U.S. embassy here, then he got out of the disastrous Iran treaty, and now recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights", said Netanyahu. "The United Nations operates in a parallel universe where they make things up so they can demonize Israel".

Despite his comments, the United States president does not have the moral or legal authority to grant Israel sovereignty over Syrian land, Awad told MEE.

The Golan Heights are absolutely necessary for Israel's long-term national security, and recognizing it is the right thing for all of Israel's allies, not just the United States, to do.

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