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Netanyahu Praises Trump over Golan Heights Move

Netanyahu Praises Trump over Golan Heights Move

Thursday, 21 March, 2019 - 19:00
FILE PHOTO: Israeli armored vehicles take part in an army drill in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel, August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Asharq Al-Awsat
President Donald Trump said Thursday that it's time for the United States to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, an expected shift in US policy ahead of the Israeli prime minister's planned visit next week to the White House.

The administration has been considering recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. 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."

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Trump tweeted.

Minutes later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his appreciation. "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!"

In addition to its policies toward the Palestinians, the US has taken a hard line toward Iran, much to Netanyahu's delight.

Trump's announcement came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Jerusalem, lauding warm ties with Israel and promising to step up pressure on Iran.

Pompeo's words gave a public boost to the Israeli leader at the height of a tight re-election campaign. Netanyahu is to be in Washington for two days next week — two weeks before Israel's April 9 ballot.

At a press conference with Pompeo, Netanyahu said: "The message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel."

Trump's declaration is of "equal historical importance" to his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his withdrawal from the international nuclear deal with Iran, he added.

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