Trump says US should recognize Israeli sovereignty in Golan Heights

Donald Trump announces US should recognise Israeli annexation of Golan Heights

Mr Trump's statement showed "the blind bias of the United States" towards Israel, Syrian state media cited a foreign ministry source as saying on Friday.

But there had been hints that the Trump administration was heading in the direction of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. "Usually there's prep for a rollout and policy briefs on the consequences, but there was none of that".

"Yesterday US President Trump's unfortunate statement about the Golan Heights brings the region to the edge of a new crisis", Erdogan told an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul. The statement also noted that the Syrian people are determined to recover Golan Heights through QUOTE "all available means".

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.

Pompeo visited Israel later that day, where Netanyahu raised the matter in a joint press conference in Jerusalem.

Trump's foreign policy team did not respond favorably to similar requests regarding the Golan Heights past year, expressing frustration with Israeli officials for pressuring them over a major policy change so shortly after the administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

What other reaction has there been?

US President Donald Trump has once again baffled the world with a tweet - this time by calling on the US to "fully recognize" Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights - a Syrian territory it occupied during the 1967 Six Day War and effectively annexed in 1981.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also tweeted his thanks to Mr Trump on Thursday.

If the announcement came as a surprise, it was a good surprise for Mr Netanyahu.

Israel regards the Golan as a strategic asset, because its hills overlook northern Israeli towns, particularly near its inland Sea of Galilee. The 2018 State Department report on human rights practices referred to the Golan Heights as an "Israeli-controlled" area, instead of "occupied territory" as it had been described in the past. "We would prefer that the Secretary of State leave the theology to the clergy". The whole move is effectively nothing but a blatant direct interference into Israeli elections, which is quite clearly aimed at giving one particular candidate a boost. "As soon as Mr. Trump's tweet was posted, pro-Moscow Twitter accounts began promoting the idea it cleared the way for eventual worldwide recognition of Russia's annexation of the Crimea Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine five years ago this month".

Israeli soldiers stand guard at the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights.

The region is located about 60km (40 miles) south-west of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and covers about 1,200 sq km (400 sq miles).

The same stance has been voiced by a German government spokeswoman, who said that the Golan Heights is a Syrian territory occupied by Israel. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, as well as GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, which seeks to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. "They have a better life than being in Syria or any Arab country - just look what happened in the war in Syria", he said.

There was also quick approval from the senior Republican in the US Senate, Lindsey Graham, who is pushing for Congress to recognise Israeli control over the Golan.

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