(Nick Wadhams, Bloomberg News) President Donald Trump said it’s time for the U.S. to “fully recognize” Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a political gift to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just weeks before a tough re-election vote.
Netanyahu promptly praised Trump’s tweet: “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. Thank you President Trump!”
Trump’s tweet came a day after Netanyahu, in a press briefing with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Jerusalem, called for the U.S. and the rest of the world to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967.
Israel annexed it in 1981.
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the White House next week ahead of the April 9 re-election vote.
“I can say that all of you can imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan,” Netanyahu said. “I think it’s time the international community recognizes Israel’s stay in the Golan, the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the state of Israel.”
The U.S. had signaled strongly in recent weeks it was ready to accept Israeli sovereignty.
In an annual report on human rights released last week, the State Department referred to the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza as “Israeli-controlled,” not “Israeli-occupied.”
Asked about the report, which dropped the previous use of the word “occupied,” Pompeo said the change in language was intentional.
“It wasn’t a mistake; it wasn’t an error. It was done knowingly. We believe it’s the most factual description that was appropriate for the report,” he said.