President Donald Trump today announced over social media the U.S. should recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, Syrian territory that was captured in the June 1967 war. Israel later effectively annexed the Golan through legislation in 1981, although no country considered the move legal.
It is a violation of international law to annex lands captured in hostilities, even in defensive warfare.
Trump tweeted, “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!”
Later in the day Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump at a press conference alongside U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who was in the region today and yesterday. Netanyahu said, “President Trump has made history. He recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, at a time when Iran is trying to use the Golan Heights as a platform to destroy Israel.”
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
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 expressed gratitude for Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement. “But now he did something of equal historic importance,” Netanyahu said, “he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and he did so at a time when Iran is trying to use Syria as a platform to attack and destroy Israel. And the message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel.”
Netanyahu will visit the White House next week, less than one month before Israel will hold elections.
Many are ascribing the decision to reelection hopes, of both Netanyahu and Trump.
“It’s clear that this cynical move by Trump is not about the long-term interests of the US or Israel, but rather about handing yet another political gift to Prime Minister Netanyahu in the hopes of boosting his chances for re-election next month,” Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street writes.
And Trump’s hopes too. Amir Tibon of Haaretz:
Some already speculating Bibi will return the huge favor by being flexible on Kushner’s peace plan. Wishful thinking. Trump doesn’t care about a peace plan, he cares about Evangelical votes in 2020, and that’s when Bibi will return the favor. You help my re-election, I help yours
Aaron David Miller:
Trump’s move is pure and unadulterated domestic politics – helping Netanyahu get reelected is great for Trump’s politics; but it’s not a compelling US national interest. Trump also wants to change US policy toward Palestinians and Golan and cares little about consequences