Time for U.S. to Fully Recognise Israel's Sovereignty Over Golan Heights


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday. What wasn't controlled by Israel was controlled by the Syrian government before their civil war. Trump tweeted, without providing any other details.

Trump said the Golan "is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!"

Hosting Pompeo at his office, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri "cannot say to anyone that Lebanon is separate from Hezbollah" - a reference to the group's clout in Beirut where it has ministers in the coalition cabinet as well as lawmakers in parliament.

"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", the right-wing prime minister wrote on Twitter.

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) President Donald Trump talks with journalists before departing the White House March 20, 2019.

Netanyahu is to be in Washington for two days next week - two weeks before Israel's April 9 ballot.

A senior administration official said the president had been discussing his Golan move over the last few days with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House national security adviser John Bolton, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt and USA ambassador to Israel David Friedman. "You can imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan", Netanyahu told Pompeo.

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In the past, the U.S. government had sought to avoid tacitly recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the parts of Jerusalem it took control of in the 1967 Six-Day War. Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, visited the Golan Heights with Netanyahu on Monday and pledged to promote Israel's sovereignty over the adea 'now and forever'.

Pompeo explained that one of the main reasons for his visit to the region was to advance efforts begun last month at a gathering in Poland to build a regional alliance against Iran.

Like the Trump administration's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, this will be seen as another demonstration of its unreserved support for Israel, and for Mr Netanyahu in particular. UN Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from Golan and other territories it occupied in 1967, including Gaza and the West Bank.

Trump's latest shakeup comes ahead of the expected unveiling of a White House plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"It's going to create real problems with our Arab partners in that part of the world", he said. Netanyahu raised the possibility of USA recognition in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017.

That's a boost for Netanyahu, who is heading into a general election while plagued by corruption investigations.