by WorldTribune Staff, March 22, 2019
President Donald Trump on March 21 declared that the United States recognizes Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights.
“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 tweeted.
Turkey, Iran, and Syria have condemned Trump’s statement on the Golan Heights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to thank Trump, tweeting: “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! @realDonaldTrump.”
Israel captured the 1,800-square-kilometer Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.
In 1981, Israel extended its laws to the region, effectively annexing it, in a move that has not been recognized by the international community.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on March 22 that Trump’s move has brought the region to the edge of a new crisis. “We cannot allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights,” Erdogan told a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA that Damascus “condemns in the strongest terms the irresponsible statements of [Trump] regarding the occupied Syrian Golan.”
Trump’s remark “affirms the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist occupation entity and its unlimited support for aggressive behavior,” SANA added.
In an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, the president said that he had been thinking about Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights for “a long time.”
“It’s been a very hard decision for every president. No president has done it. This is very much like Jerusalem, moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” said Trump in the interview.
“Everybody campaigned on Jerusalem and the embassy going to Jerusalem. They all campaigned on it and they never did it and I understand why. I also campaigned on it and when I got elected, I was inundated with calls from all over the world – mostly the leaders – saying ‘don’t do it, don’t do it’. I did it and it’s been done and it’s fine,” continued Trump.
“The Golan Heights is the same thing. For years, other presidents have campaigned, they said they’d do it. This is sovereignty, this is security, this is about regional security,” he pointed out.
Asked whether the move had anything to do with Netanyahu’s re-election bid, Trump replied, “I wouldn’t even know about that. I have no idea. I hear he’s doing okay. But I would imagine the other side – whoever’s against him – is also in favor of what I just did.”
“Every president said ‘do that’. I’m the one who gets it done,” Trump said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Netanyahu in Jerusalem on March 21, hailed Trump’s move as “historic” and “bold.”
“Tonight, President Trump made the decision to recognize that that hard-fought real estate, that important place, is proper to be a sovereign part of the state of Israel. President Trump made a bold decision to recognize that, an important decision for the people of Israel. It will truly be historic, and the people of Israel should know that the battles they fought, the lives that they lost on that very ground, were worthy and meaningful and important for all time,” Pompeo said.
Iran, one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s main military backers, condemned Trump’s remarks as dangerous.
“Trump’s personal and ill-considered decision is dangerous and will only lead to further crises in the Middle East,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit declared that the League fully supports Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“The League of Arab States fully supports Syria’s right for its occupied territory. We have a specific position, based on resolutions, on this issue,” Aboul Gheit said, according to the Sputnik news agency.
The Kremlin voiced hope that Trump’s statement would not be enacted. “It is just a call for now. Let’s hope it will remain a call,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.