Breaking with decades of international consensus, US President Donald Trump has formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, a border area the Tel Aviv regime seized from Syria in 1967.
Trump signed a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian territory on Monday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump’s Jewish son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were standing at his side in the White House in Washington, DC.
“This was a long time in the making. Should have taken place decades ago,” Trump said.
Trump handed the pen that he used for his signature to Netanyahu, and said, “Give this to the people of Israel.”
Netanyahu has been pressing for Washington to recognize Israel’s claim to the occupied Golan Heights.
Some analysts see Trump’s Golan Heights announcement as a campaign gift to Netanyahu ahead of Israel’s legislative elections on April 9.
Netanyahu faces an increasingly tough time ahead as his biggest political opponent overtakes him in popularity and as calls mount for him to resign over looming corruption charges that could effectively end his political career.
Netanyahu called the recognition “historic” and told Trump after he signed the document, “Israel has never had a better friend than you.”
He told the US president “it was so important for me to come here to the White House and thank you.”
Trump on Thursday declared his bid to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian territory, marking a dramatic shift in US policy.
Earlier this month, the US State Department changed its usual description of the Golan Heights from “Israeli-occupied” to “Israeli-controlled” in an annual global human rights report.
Washington’s recognition of the Israeli-occupied area marks a major shift in US policy. The United Nations emphasizes Syria’s sovereignty over the territory.
“Today for the first time in 52 years, with Prime Minister Netanyahu at his side, the president of the US will formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” US Vice President Mike Pence announced earlier on Monday as he addressed the pro-Israel lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, DC.