Donald Trump announces USA should recognise Israeli annexation of Golan Heights

Greece-Cyprus-Israel summit in Jerusalem

President Trump announced Thursday afternoon the United States will officially recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

But now he did something of equal historic importance - he recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and he did so at a time when Iran is trying to use Syria as a platform to attack and destroy Israel.

However, Leon Panetta a veteran Democrat who served as Central Intelligence Agency director and defense secretary, among other roles, blasted Trump for "tweeting out another policy that obviously has not been worked out with our global partners".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday lauded the White House's warm ties with Israel during a visit to the country and promised to step up pressure on Iran, giving a public boost to Israel's prime minister at the height of a tight re-election campaign.

Asked what message he would take to Lebanon, his next stop, Pompeo told reporters: "We're going to be very clear about how America sees Hezbollah and our expectations about how Lebanon's success depends on the Lebanese people (demanding) that a terrorist organization not be in control of their government and not drive policies and create risk for their country as well".

It was captured by Israel during the Middle East war of 1967 and subsequently annexed in a move never recognised by the global community.

Earlier this month, a senior United States administration official told reporters in Washington that there was "no change in [US] outlook or our policy vis-a-vis these territories and the need for a negotiated settlement there".

A couple look towards signs pointing out distances to different cities, on Mount Bental, an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, Israel January 21, 2019. Mr. Trump wrote. The tweet could boost Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a strong global ally of Mr. Trump's who is visiting Washington next week.

French-built Israeli tanks in action in this
French-built Israeli tanks in action in this

Head of the Golan Heights Regional Council Haim Rokah said it was "about time" and called on Israel to increase funding and investment for the region "and double the population". He recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and the Trump administration moved the USA embassy to Jerusalem in May. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust from Israel's attorney general.

Accusing Iranian leaders of seeking the "annihilation and destruction" of Israel, he pledged continued American support. Netanyahu tweeted his gratitude. Much of the world, including Canada, recognizes the Golan Heights as occupied territory.

In a speech broadcast on the Persian New Year on Thursday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic had successfully resisted "unprecedented, strong" USA sanctions.

Formally recognising Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights would mark a break in decades of USA foreign policy and fly in the face of global consensus. The population of the region is now a mix of Syrian Arabs and Israeli settlers.

In past negotiations, Syria has demanded a withdrawal from the Golan as part of any peace deal.

"President Trump's decision to recognize the Golan as part of Israel is strategically wise and overall awesome".

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

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