USA abruptly endorses Israel’s Golan sovereignty in big shift

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With strategic congressional backing, Netanyahu hopes for a public indication of movement from Trump during his visit to the White House on Monday and Tuesday.

The strategically important land is recognized as part of Syria by the United Nations and UN resolutions have called for Israel to withdraw from the areas, as well as other occupied territories, including Gaza and the West Bank.

Photo taken on October 18, 2017 shows an Israeli flag fluttering above the wreckage of an Israeli tank sitting on a hill in the Golan Heights and overlooking the border with Syria.

U.N Security Council Resolution 497 from 1981 stated in part "that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without worldwide legal effect".

The Israeli prime minister has accused Iran of attempting to set up a terrorist network to target Israel from the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

Some of Trump's biggest critics said on Thursday that Israel shouldn't be expected to relinquish that territory under the circumstances, but also castigated the president for what they described as using a serious policy decision as a sort of in-kind campaign contribution to Netanyahu.

Despite his comments, the United States president does not have the moral or legal authority to grant Israel sovereignty over Syrian land, Awad told MEE.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, wrote on Twitter that he supported recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and that he and Sen. "If Assad got ahold of Golan they would operate against Israel from there too".

Trump remains popular in Israel, and his advisers have been developing a Middle East peace proposal for release sometime after the Israeli elections.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accompanied Israel's prime minister on a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday in the first such gesture since Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, angering Palestinians.

The move comes after the State Department scrapped the words "Israeli-occupied" when referring to the Golan in its annual human rights report for 2018.

Graham made the announcement after a joint tour of the territory by him, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Envoy to Israel David Friedman.

"The time has come for the world to recognize that the Golan Heights is an inseparable part of the State of Israel".

Angering Palestinians and drawing global concern, Trump broke with decades of U.S. Middle East policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and moving the American Embassy, which Pompeo will visit on Thursday, to the city last May.

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".

That's nice, but we prefer to exist in actual reality, and anyway the United States makes our own decisions with respect to issues of sovereignty.

Why does Israel want the Golan? But that policy has been upended by the Trump administration.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has lashed out at the US President following Trump's most recent remarks on the Golan Heights, stressing that "the territorial integrity of states is the most fundamental principle of worldwide law".

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