Published: Fri, March 22, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

President Trump Just Recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli Territory

President Trump Just Recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli Territory

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967 and formally annexed the territory in 1981.

USA and Israeli officials said Wednesday they had not expected a decision until next week, when Netanyahu is to visit the U.S.

But in a tweet that appeared to catch many by surprise, Trump said the time had come.

In recent years, Israel has maintained that its control over the Golan is essential to fending off Iranian proxies in Syria and preventing the Syrian Civil War from nearing its borders. Attempts to bring Israel and Syria to the table have failed. That force's mandate expires at the end of June.

The US had offered several hints that a decision on the Golan may be coming.

Last week, in its annual human rights report, the State Department dropped the phrase "Israeli-occupied" from the Golan Heights section, instead calling it "Israeli-controlled".

On Thursday, Pompeo was asked about the Golan in Jerusalem but he declined to answer.

Trump's abrupt announcement was immediately cheered by Netanyahu, who faces a tough reelection battle and visits Washington next week. Elections in Israel take place on April 9.

"We have the miracle of Purim", he said.

A Golan Heights force was set up after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war to monitor the ceasefire. Israel is now in the middle of a precarious situation with its neighbors: It has been striking Iranian targets in Syria and this latest development, created by the Trump, could provoke Syria, Russia and Iran to further isolate and perhaps attack Israel, complicating matters immensely.

Netanyahu arrives in Washington next week to meet with Trump and address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, lobbying group.

Greece-Cyprus-Israel summit in Jerusalem

Despite Trump's emphatic tweet, Russian lawmaker's have already rejected the move that was declared during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Jerusalem. First, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the U.S. embassy here.

Trump will host Netanyahu at the White House next Monday and Tuesday.

The Israeli leader is facing several corruption investigations and a looming indictment by the country's attorney general, while U.S. politicians are anticipating the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on possible collusion between Trump's election campaign team and Russian Federation.

Mr Netanyahu, whose Likud party is running slightly behind a new centrist party led by the former general Benny Gantz in polls...

Such a move would upend decades of USA policy but fall in line with the Trump administration's pattern of lavishing Israel with symbolic gifts and political support. Palestinians claim part of the city as the capital of their future state. Acknowledging the significance of the US Secretary of State participating in the summit, the prime minister went on to say that, "It symbolizes the fact that the US supports this regional effort". Pompeo, a Christian, also stopped at the church.

The Western Wall is a remnant of the compound of a Jewish temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The wall is one of Judaism's holiest spots, but located in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem.

Trump's defense of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights is welcome and historic.

"This is a political statement by tweet", said Aaron David Miller, a veteran Mideast peace negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations.

But senior Trump administration officials tell McClatchy that some aides to the president, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, now favor the move.

The Druze are an Arab minority who practice an offshoot of Islam and many of its adherents in Syria have always been loyal to the Assad regime.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Israel this week and lauded the White House's strong ties with the country.

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When he realised the mosque was being attacked, he ran towards Tarrant, picking up a credit card machine as a makeshift weapon. He went after him, and he managed to overpower him, and that's how we were saved, " Mr Alabi said, referring to Mr Aziz.

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