US President Donald Trump declared on Thursday that it is time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that Israel seized from Syria in 1967, marking a dramatic shift in US policy, Reuters reports.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
Giving a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the middle of his re-election campaign, Trump’s plan prompted criticism from the Arab League and nations such as Turkey.
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Trump’s announcement was “completely beyond international law.”
“The Arab League stands fully behind the Syrian right to its occupied land,” he said in a statement published by Egypt’s state news agency MENA.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter that Turkey “supports Syria’s territorial integrity.”
Washington’s “attempts to legitimize Israel’s illegal acts will only lead to more violence in the region,” he said.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, thanked Trump for the Golan Heights gesture.
“You’ve made history,” The Israeli leader told Trump in a phone call after the announcement, according to the prime minister’s office.
Netanyahu had been expected to raise the issue again with Trump during his visit to Washington, an Israeli official said.
“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!,” Netanyahu wrote in a tweet.
The disputed area was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally. Netanyahu has pressed the US to recognize its claim and raised that possibility in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017.
Netanyahu arrives in Washington next week to meet with Trump and address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, lobbying group.
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