Time for U.S. to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

From left Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo center Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Western Wall tunnels synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday

Greece-Cyprus-Israel summit in Jerusalem

The UN Security Council, however, declared that it was not valid under worldwide law, and the law sparked a crisis between Israel and the U.S. under president Ronald Reagan.

Trump enjoys sky-high approval ratings in Israel, and his embrace of Netanyahu so close to the elections, coupled with delivering a long-sought recognition, could impact the outcome of the Israeli election.

In a move that would mark a significant shift in U.S. policy, President Trump announced that "after 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights".

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

Netanyahu had previously urged top U.S. officials to make the declaration and he is expected to meet with Trump at the White House in the coming days. "You made history", Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying.

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Trump's announcement came as Pompeo was wrapping up a two-day visit to Jerusalem during which he lauded warm ties with Israel, met with Netanyahu on at least three separate occasions and promised to step up pressure on Iran.

The decision immediately followed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday, almost a year after Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the sole capital of Israel and announced that he would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv.

The South Carolina politican made his pledge during a tour of the frontier with Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. "They are determined to wipe this country off the face of the planet and we have a moral obligation and a political one to prevent that from happening - you should know that the United States is prepared to do that".

President Trump wrote on Twitter that Israel should have full sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War. That's a boost for Netanyahu, who is heading into a general election while plagued by corruption investigations.

Pompeo has said his trip has nothing to do with politics. "What do we expect from a racist president except spewing racist policies and positions against people of colour, minorities and people under the occupation?"

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Trump's declaration is of "equal historical importance" to his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his withdrawal from the worldwide nuclear deal with Iran.

Israel is not going to give up on the Golan or our historical, unified capital of Jerusalem.

Together with recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Trump has stated the obvious. But the gesture was perceived as unfairly siding with Israel and prompted the Palestinians to cut contacts with US officials. "This will benefit our economies, provide stability and prosperity for our citizens and diversify energy sources in Europe", Netanyahu said.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Pompeo's visit added additional obstacles to peace hopes. Acknowledging the significance of the US Secretary of State participating in the summit, the prime minister went on to say that, "It symbolizes the fact that the US supports this regional effort".

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