US President Donald Trump on Thursday made an unprecedented announcement, calling for the US to officially recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
In a tweet, Trump wrote, “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 called the territory “of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”
Earlier on Thursday, a report by Israel’s Channel 13 claimed that senior Israeli officials believed that Trump would formally recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights next week.
The move ends a decades-long US policy of non-recognition of Israel’s annexation of the strategic plateau.
Israel captured the Heights from Syria during the Six Day War in June, 1967, after the Syrian army used the strategic high ground overlooking the Galilee to attack Israeli towns and farms.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised Trump’s announcement.
“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,” Netanyahu wrote on his personal Twitter account. “Thank you President Trump!”
Trump will host Netanyahu at the White House next Monday and Tuesday. The Israeli leader, who is running for reelection, will be in Washington for the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pro-Israel lobbying group.
The Golan Heights move was hinted at a week ago when the State Department changed its usual description of the area as “occupied” to “Israeli-controlled.”