Trump decides to recognize Israel's Claim To Golan Heights

Trump decides to recognize Israel's Claim To Golan Heights

Trump decides to recognize Israel's Claim To Golan Heights

It is time for the US to "fully recognize" Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, US President Donald Trump said Thursday in a Twitter message that confirmed a shift in American foreign policy hinted at for several weeks.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has intensified a push for USA 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's announcement coincided with a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Jerusalem, where he became the first high-ranking American official to visit the Western Wall alongside an Israeli prime minister - another boost for Netanyahu.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted the news as a "miracle of Purim", the holiday that marks the Jewish victory over a Persian tyrant. "We-the administration's considering lots of things always, and I try to make sure we get to answers before we talk about them publicly".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signs a guest book during a visit together with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem's Old City, Thursday, March 21, 2019.

Pompeo also accused Hizbullah of putting Lebanon on the frontlines of Iran's proxy campaigns and of "stealing" the Lebanese state's funds. Israel and Syria signed an armistice in 1974 and the Golan had been relatively quiet since. Water from the Golan travels to the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River.

Netanyahu, who raised the possibility of USA recognition in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017, had lobbied Pompeo about the issue during the top USA diplomat's visit to Israel this week, according to reports.

Worldwide condemnation has been swift after US President Donald Trump, in violation of global law, declared his administration would recognise Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights in Syria.

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".

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Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat panned the Golan announcement and said US policy would bring "bloodshed in our region".

"The Golan is not disputed".

"My goal is to try to explain this to the administration", he said.

"And I think this plan presents a vision for that but doesn't sacrifice any of these core principles frankly of any of the faiths".

It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Trump's latest move comes after he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the United States embassy there previous year, which Erdogan strongly condemned.

Syria expressed outrage and said it was determined to recover the area "through all available means".

Appearing to give an upbeat assessment of US mediation efforts to resolve a maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, Bassil said Beirut had an opportunity to recover its rights with a "political and diplomatic victory".

Riechmann reported from Washington.

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