Trump Signs Decree Recognizing «Israeli» Sovereignty over Golan Heights
By Staff, Agencies
US President Donald Trump Monday recognized the Golan Heights as “Israeli” territory in an election boost for “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as his chief political rival sought to appear as a better alternative to lead the “Israeli” entity.
During a White House visit by Netanyahu, Trump signed a proclamation officially granting US recognition of the Golan Heights as “Israeli” territory, in a dramatic shift from decades of US policy. The “Israeli” entity seized the strategic land from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
The recognition, which Trump had announced in a tweet last Thursday, appeared to be the most overt gesture by the Republican president to help Netanyahu, who had been pressing Trump for the move.
Syria called the decision a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty and territorial integrity Monday, saying it had a right to reclaim the territory.
"The liberation of the Golan by all available means and its return to the Syrian motherland is an inalienable right," Syria's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.
"The decision ... makes the United States the main enemy of the Arabs."
The statement said nothing could change the "eternal historical fact that the Golan was and will remain Syrian Arab."
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the decision does not change the area's status, according to a statement published by Egypt's state news agency MENA.
Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu Monday called the decision unacceptable and said Turkey will take action against it, including at the United Nations.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "clear that the status of Golan has not changed," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday in response to Trump’s move.
"The UN's policy on Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and that policy has not changed," Dujarric said.
A UN Security Council resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member body in 1981 declared that the entity’s "decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect." It also demanded the entity rescind its decision.
Moscow, an ally of Syria, said it feared "a new wave of tensions" in the Middle East following Washington’s decision.
"Unfortunately, this could drive a new wave of tensions in the Middle East region," Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a radio broadcast, according to Russian news agencies.
Netanyahu, who faces an election on April 9, earlier Monday cut short his US visit after a rocket fired from Gaza injured seven people near Tel Aviv. He arrived in Washington Sunday, originally for a four-day trip.
Signing the document as Netanyahu looked over his shoulder, Trump said: "This was a long time in the making."
He handed the pen that he used for his signature to Netanyahu, and said: "Give this to the people of ‘Israel’."
Netanyahu welcomed Trump's move and said the “Israeli” entity has never had a better friend. He harked back to two previous Middle Eastern wars as the reason why the entity needs to hang on to the Golan.
The rocket attack near Tel Aviv in central “Israel”, came as the American “Israel” Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-“Israel” group, held its annual meeting in Washington with speaker after speaker expressing US support for strong ties with the country.
"We stand with ‘Israel’ because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight," Vice President Mike Pence said.
Pence also talked tough against Iran, saying that under Trump, "America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon."
Netanyahu's strongest election challenger, Benny Gantz, appeared before the gathering Monday, and vowed to protect his country against threats from Iran and Syria. He called for unity in “Israel”.
"We must remember if that we want hope, we must have unity," he said.
With Election Day approaching, opinion polls put Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party neck and neck.
Trump's event came as he celebrated the end of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia. Attorney General William Barr Sunday said Mueller found no evidence that the campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia.