Time for USA to recognize Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights

An Israeli soldier in the Golan Heights 2006

In a tweet Thursday afternoon, Trump said it's important for the United States to fully recognize Israel's control over what he called an area of "critical strategic and security importance to Israel" and stability in the region.

President Donald Trump has abruptly declared the USA will recognize Israel's sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, a major shift in American policy that gives Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political boost a month before what is expected to be a close election.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now in the midst of his most hard reelection thus far and has long called for USA recognition of the Golan, took to Twitter to celebrate the news.

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!".

On Feb. 26, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced into the Senate, and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08) introduced into the House, bills which, for purposes of legislation by the U.S. Congress, would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

"In our meetings with Administration and Capitol Hill officials there's been a clear understanding of the Golan Heights' importance to Israel's security".

Graham, who toured the Golan Heights with Netanyahu earlier this month, tweeted his support for Trump's declaration: "President Trump's decision to recognize the Golan as part of Israel is strategically wise and overall awesome".

Trump's announcement regarding Israeli sovereignty was foreshadowed by two other USA government initiatives, one legislative, the other from the State Department. In all, 151 nations voted in support, with just Israel and the USA voting against.

Israel occupies roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights as a de facto result of the conflict.

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Trump's decision has been building up for several weeks now, a senior administration official tells CNN.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967 and formally annexed the territory in 1981. "He recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, at a time when Iran is trying to use the Golan Heights as a platform to destroy Israel". Pompeo's words gave a public boost to the Israeli leader at the height of a tight re-election campaign.

Pompeo was hosted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who praised the decision to recognize the Golan as a "miracle" during the week Jewish people celebrate the holiday of Purim.

Netanyahu has argued otherwise, saying that Iran's attempts to entrench itself in Syria have made Israel's hold on the Golan more important that ever. "We would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee".

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.

The Times called Pompeo's visit to the historic landmark "significant", as it "could be seen as tacit American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the contested Jewish holy site and a shift in United States policy".

Pompeo says he thinks it's important and symbolic to visit the wall with the Israeli leader Thursday as a show of US support for Israel.

"Second, US recognition of Israel's annexation of the Golan could lay the ground for US recognition of future Israeli annexation of the West Bank or parts of it", Zalzberg added.

Pompeo's trip to Israel comes during a contested Israeli election.

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