Trump announces USA will recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday emphasized the fundamental importance of states' territorial integrity under worldwide law, criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump's remarks that the United States should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, an area seized from Syria and annexed in a move never recognized by the global community.

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 worldwide partners".

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

The announcement hands Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a significant foreign policy victory, less than three weeks before Israelis head to the polls to decide whether he should remain in power.

It is hard to see President Trump's tweet as representing anything other than a pre-election gift to Israel's prime minister, who is compromised by legal investigations into allegations of corruption and facing perhaps the most difficult campaign of his tenure.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) welcomes US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to his residence in Jerusalem on March 21, 2019.

'I think, for this reason, and many more, it is time that the worldwide community recognises Israel's stay on the Golan, and the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the State of Israel'.

"You could imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan", he said.

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

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

Pompeo and Netanyahu prayed at the wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, before depositing written prayers in its crevices and then touring nearby tunnels and synagogue.

Peace talks between Syria and Israel have continued on and off since Israel unilaterally annexed the area in 1981, a move which was not recognized internationally.

Mr. Netanyahu said Israeli intelligence officials had discovered last week that Hezbollah, the Lebanese military and political group with ties to Iran, was trying to set up a network in the Syrian-controlled portion of the Golan Heights, posing a threat to Israel.

Netanyahu has accused Iran of attempting to set up a terrorist network to target Israel from the Golan Heights, using the incident to repeat his goal of global recognition for Israel's claim on the area.

"I'm looking forward to going to the wall with the PM", he said.

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

The White House said Netanyahu would be welcomed next Monday and Tuesday with both a working meeting and a dinner with Trump.

The secretary said he thought it was important to visit the wall with the Israeli leader as a show of support for Israel.

  • Jon Douglas