It's Time for US to 'Recognize Israel's Sovereignty' Over Golan Heights

Clay Curtis
March 22, 2019

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has intensified a push for US recognition of Israeli control over disputed territory with Syria, hoping that President Donald Trump will deliver a major diplomatic victory during his visit to Washington two weeks before his toughest election yet. Trump declared his break with that policy in a tweet.

In 1981, Israel's parliament passed legislation applying Israeli "law, jurisdiction, and administration" to the Golan, in effect, annexing the territory.

Israel captured much of the Golan from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed it, a move not endorsed internationally.

The strategically important land is recognized as part of Syria by the United Nations and UN resolutions have called for Israel to withdraw from the areas, as well as other occupied territories, including Gaza and the West Bank.

Senior U.S. officials, including Trump and numerous predecessors, have visited the wall privately in the past, but never with an Israeli leader.

"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", the Israeli prime minister wrote.

Like the Trump administration's decision to move the United States embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, this will be seen as another demonstration of its unreserved support for Israel, and for Mr Netanyahu in particular.

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Earlier this month, The Hill cited US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham as saying that he will push the Trump administration to formally recognise the disputed Golan Heights region as part of Israel, according to a report by The Hill.

On Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Pompeo appeared together to offer remarks to reporters following a one-on-one meeting in the prime minister's compound in Jerusalem.

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.

"The message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel", he said in a statement.

Trump's tweet coincided with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Jerusalem, and comes two weeks before Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will face voters in his bid for reelection.

"You could imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan, " he said. "Many look forward to the day when President Trump takes a helpful action toward resolving the complicated relationship between Israel and her neighbors and not yet another unnecessary provocation that only inflames a sometimes very hard situation". The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Israel and Syria signed an armistice in 1974 and the Golan had been relatively quiet since. In May 2018, Mr. Trump withdrew the USA from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the "Iran deal", brokered by the Obama administration, calling it "a awful one-sided deal". But the gesture was perceived as unfairly siding with Israel and prompted the Palestinians to sever ties with the U.S. The Palestinians already have rejected a planned Mideast peace initiative by the administration.

Mr Pompeo lauded the president while also praising the work the USA has done for Israel.

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