"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s (s)overeignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Trump posted, as his secretary of state Mike Pompeo prepared to deliver a joint address from Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The tweet came less than a day after Israeli and American officials said they expected an announcement on the issue as soon as next week, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Washington.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not yet been made public.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2019
Netanyahu thanked the US president for his decision to "boldly recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights," on his official Twitter page.
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— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 21, 2019
Netanyahu also said that the Golan was a buffer to keep Israel's enemies at bay, in particular Iran.
“You could imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan,” he said. “You would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.”
While Pompeo avoided the issue of sovereignty over the Golan during his visit to Israel on Wednesday, he lauded the White House’s warm ties with the Jewish state and promised to step up pressure on Iran, giving a public boost to Netanyahu at the height of a tight re-election campaign.
A change in the US view of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, along with the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, was also hinted at last week when the State Department changed its usual description of the plateau from "Israeli-occupied" to "Israeli-controlled" in an annual global human rights report.
A separate section of the report on the West Bank and Gaza Strip also did not refer to those territories as being "occupied" or under "occupation."
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham earlier this month also vowed to push for the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The South Carolina politican made his pledge during a tour of the frontier with Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
“The Golan is not disputed. It is in the hands of Israel and will always remain in the hands of Israel,” Graham said from a cliff overlooking Syria, where Syrian flags could be seen fluttering in the distance on buildings damaged in the country’s civil war.
“My goal is to try to explain this to the administration,” he said.