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Trump: it’s time for the US to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights

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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.”

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

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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22 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on March 21, 2019, 5:57 pm

    RE: “Trump: it’s time for the US to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights”

    ALSO SEE: “Oil profits grease Trump administration’s move to recognize Israeli annexation of Golan” | By Finian Cunningham | | 19 Mar, 2019
    LINK –

    • RoHa on March 21, 2019, 7:32 pm

      I expect that the US will also recognize that Crimea is part of Russia.

      • JLewisDickerson on March 21, 2019, 10:14 pm

        Probably not, since that would be logically consistent!

      • Talkback on March 22, 2019, 4:29 am

        Crimea wasn’t even acquired by force.

      • RoHa on March 23, 2019, 4:40 am

        And it was part of Russia until the 1950s, and the population wanted to be Russian.

    • Keith on March 21, 2019, 8:41 pm

      JLEWISDICKERSON- “ALSO SEE: “Oil profits grease Trump administration’s move to recognize Israeli annexation of Golan”

      “Genie Energy’s Strategic advisory board is composed of: Dick Cheney (former vice president of the United States), Rupert Murdoch (media mogul and chairman of News Corp), James Woolsey (former CIA director), Larry Summers (former head of the US Treasury), Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico, an ex-ambassador to the United Nations and United States Energy Secretary[2], Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild,[3][2], and Mary Landrieu, former United States Senator from Louisiana.”

    • Misterioso on March 22, 2019, 9:02 am

      JLewisDickerson, et al

      For the record:

      In the summer of 1967, “[t]he legal counsel of the Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron, was asked [by then Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol] whether international law allowed settlement in the newly conquered land. In a memo marked ‘Top Secret,’ Meron wrote unequivocally: ‘My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.’” (New York Times, 10 March 2006)

      Security Council Resolution 465 (1 March 1980) “determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

      Security Council Resolution 476 (June 30, 1980) “Reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem.”

      On 17 December 1981, the UNSC unanimously passed Resolution 497, which declared Israel’s 14 December 1981 annexation of Syria’s Golan Height “null and void.”

      On 24 February 2004, the U.S. State Department reaffirmed its earlier position in a report entitled Israel and the OCCUPIED [my emphasis] Territories, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: “Israel OCCUPIED [my emphasis] the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights after the 1967 War…. The international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over any part of the OCCUPIED [my emphasis] territories.”

      In its 2004 ruling, the International Court of Justice unanimously ruled that “No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.” The World Court denoted this principle a “corollary” of the U.N. Charter and as such “customary international law” and a “customary rule” binding on all member States of the United Nations.

      Further underscoring the illegality of the settlements, Part 2, Article 8, section B, paragraph viii of the Rome Statue of the International Court (1998) defines “the transfer directly or indirectly by the Occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” as a War Crime, indictable by the International Criminal Court.

      In an opinion presented to the U.S. Congress on 21 April 1978 regarding the legal status of Israeli settlements, the Legal Adviser of the State Department declared that “the civilian settlements in the territories occupied by Israel do not appear to be consistent with the limits on Israel’s authority as belligerent occupant in that they do not seem intended to be of limited duration or established to provide orderly government of the territories and, though some may serve incidental security purposes, they do not appear to be required to meet military needs during the occupation.”

    • Misterioso on March 22, 2019, 3:32 pm

      @JlewisDickerson, et al.

      Just published:

      “Israel Is on the Brink of Disaster. Trump Just Made Things Worse.”

      “Israel’s right-wing leaders are reading signals from Washington as a green light.”

      By Michael J. Koplow, New York Times, March 22/19
      Michael J. Koplow is the policy director of the Israel Policy Forum in Washington.

      “On April 9, Israelis will go to the polls to choose their next government. The campaign has largely been a referendum on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should remain Israel’s leader in light of his expected indictment in three corruption cases for bribery and breach of trust. With those scandals front and center, policy disagreements have largely been ignored, leaving Israeli voters at risk of unwittingly bringing an avoidable disaster on themselves by annexing territory in the West Bank.

      “President Trump just raised that risk.
      “How so? On Twitter on Thursday, he wrote that ‘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!’ It is the latest, and most important, signal from Washington that Mr. Trump is ready to acknowledge Israeli control of the Golan Heights.

      “But those signals are also being read by the Israeli right wing as an encouragement to pursue annexation of territory in the West Bank — a far more dangerous step that would present Israel with an unparalleled existential threat to its Jewish and democratic character.

      “To be sure, there is a big difference between the two territories, both of which came under Israeli control in the 1967 war. The sparsely populated Golan Heights, seized from Syria and annexed by Israel in 1981 in defiance of international criticism, were being used by Syria to bombard Israel’s Galilee region below.** [see below]

      “The West Bank, on the other hand, is densely populated and its future has been the most intractable issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1967. Annexing it would foreclose independence for a Palestinian nation, and risk inflaming the entire Middle East.

      “That threat is not beyond the horizon any more. The young, charismatic New Right party leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, both ministers in Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition government, lead the annexation movement, and their zeal has seeped into Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party as well. Of the 29 Likud legislators running for re-election, 28 are on record as supporting annexation of at least a part of the West Bank, as is the Likud Central Committee.

      “Most significantly, the speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, who is No. 2 on Likud’s electoral slate behind Mr. Netanyahu, said on Sunday that a description of the Golan Heights as ‘Israeli-controlled’ in the recent annual report of the United States State Department — a shift from previous reports that called it ‘Israeli-occupied’ — represented an important first step toward recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank.

      “Reaching that goal, however, would create challenges as harrowing as any Israel has faced since its war of independence. As cataloged by the Israeli group Commanders for Israel’s Security, annexation would cost billions of dollars annually, would create virtually indefensible borders because of the spider web of Israeli-governed territory within the larger West Bank that most supporters of this plan want to annex, provide ammunition to the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and destroy Israel’s foreign relations with a host of countries.

      “That would also ensure that the partisan split emerging in the United States over Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians becomes a chasm. It might even open a rift between Mr. Netanyahu and his stalwart ally President Trump, who thinks himself able to devise an ultimate deal between Israelis and Palestinians, by making any such deal impossible.

      “Most important, annexing the West Bank — whether just the 60 percent of it that Israel controls now, or its entirety — would bring the collapse of security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and likely cause the demise of the authority, forcing Israel to take over all of the West Bank, like it or not. Israel would then have to grant citizenship to the 2.5 million Palestinians living there, giving itself the choice of no longer functioning as a Jewish state, or destroy its democracy by denying the Palestinians political equality. If anything can truly threaten Israel, the region’s pre-eminent military and economic powerhouse, it is that.

      “While Mr. Netanyahu himself has been the sole Likud leader not explicitly supporting annexation in the West Bank, his political predicament might well pull him into the annexationist camp. His legal problems create a strong incentive to form a government that will pass a law barring the indictment of a sitting prime minister.

      “Voter surveys suggest the election next month will result in an almost even split between the Netanyahu-led bloc of Likud and its allied parties, and an opposition bloc led by Benny Gantz. That means Mr. Netanyahu will remain in power at the whim of his preferred right-wing coalition partners, whose leverage over a prime minister seeking to stay out of jail will be enormous. And the item at the top of their wish list is extending Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank.

      “Most worrisome, Israelis have been barely paying attention. As the Israeli journalist Aluf Benn points out, this is a campaign that won’t turn on any issues but on Mr. Netanyahu himself. And to the extent that Israelis are paying attention to policy, they are concerned about terrorism and the cost of living, with only 9 percent listing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as their top concern and just 2 percent listing the future of the West Bank. Even though only 15 percent of Jewish Israelis support annexing the West Bank, a core of right-wing activists are poised to overrun the preferences of a much larger but less ideologically dedicated majority.

      “Should Mr. Netanyahu emerge victorious once again, the prospects of Israel taking this path are alarmingly high. The pro-annexationists have never put forth a detailed proposal of what annexation will entail.

      “Israeli voters may be about to rush headlong into quicksand that they don’t even realize exists.”


      ** For the record:
      Although Dayan died in 1981 (the year Israel annexed the Golan Heights), his comments re the Golan Heights, etc., were not made public until published at the request of his daughter, Yael, in the Israeli daily newspapers, Yediot Ahronot and Ha’aretz in 1997.

      General Dayan confirmed that Syria posed no threat and revealed that the real reason Israel conquered the Golan Heights (and expelled nearly all of the native Syrian Arab population) was to seize its fertile farm lands and gain control of the upper waters of the Jordan River. “‘I made a mistake in allowing the conquest of the Golan Heights. As defense minister I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time.’ The attack proceeded, he went on, not because Israel was threatened but because of pressure from land-hungry farmers and army commanders in northern Israel. ‘Of course [war with Syria] was not necessary. You can say the Syrians are bastards and attack when you want. But this is not policy. You don’t open aggression against an enemy because he’s a bastard but because he’s a threat’.” (Quoted in an editorial, “Israel and Syria: Correcting the Record,” by Stephen S. Rosenfeld, The Washington Post, 24 December 1999)

      Unaware of the pressure he was under from expansionists, two other well known Israeli generals wondered why Moshe Dayan ordered the invasion of Syria at 11:30 A.M. on June 9 – a full four days after Israel launched the war and four-and- one-half hours after Damascus had agreed to abide by the UN Security Council’s demand for a cease-fire. “[General Yitzhak] Rabin wrote in his memoir that he has ‘never grasped the reasons’ for Dayan’s decision to launch the assault. [General] Ezer Weizman, who likewise could give ‘no explanation’ for Dayan’s action, rhetorically asked years later, ‘if indeed the Syrian enemy threatened to destroy us, why did we wait three days before we attacked it?” (Quoted by Norman Finkelstein, Image and…pp. 133-34)

  2. JWalters on March 21, 2019, 6:24 pm

    Trump is gradually working his way up to announce it’s time to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the USA.

    Israel is killing democracy in America, as well as in the other western nations. Make no mistake, we are in a war to determine whether, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

    • Talkback on March 22, 2019, 5:26 am

      JWalters: “Trump is gradually working his way up to announce it’s time to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the USA.”

      Nah, Israel would never conquer large parts of the US, destroy its cities, towns and villages, build illegal settlements on its ruins and expell its Nonjewish citizens, because the two countries share no borders.

      And bear in mind that the Golan Heights are Israel’s largest fresh water reservoir. The theft must go on!

      • JWalters on March 22, 2019, 6:26 pm

        Water too!

    • Misterioso on March 22, 2019, 9:12 am


      Trump, the pseudo president, is obeying orders given to him by his number one financial contributor and puppet master, billionaire, casino magnate, Zionist zealot, Sheldon Adelson, who also pulls Netanyahu’s strings. Needless to say, Democrat Pelosi’s puppet master, Haim Saban, is clapping his hands in glee.

      • Mooser on March 22, 2019, 12:52 pm

        Sheldon Adelson is in failing health at present.

  3. Talkback on March 22, 2019, 7:35 am

    After “Jerusalem” the “Golan Heights” are the US second direct violation of Security Council Resolutions and international law which the EU will not follow:

    “The position of the EU has not changed. The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights, and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory,” the spokesperson said.

    • James Canning on March 22, 2019, 11:53 am

      Bravo, EU. Little wonder Trump is so stupidly hostile toward it.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 22, 2019, 1:44 pm

        I’m not sure the EU deserves praise for adhering – in name only – to the most minimal standareds of international law.

        The EU is massively complicit in all of Israel’s wars and occupations.

  4. ckg on March 22, 2019, 10:25 am

    As far as I can tell, the only 2020 hopeful to mention this on Twitter is Tulsi Gabbard. Kudos to her.

    (John Delaney, in contrast, has used Twitter in the last day to condemn BDS and voice support for the House resolution denouncing it.)

  5. James Canning on March 22, 2019, 11:51 am

    Trump is endorsing endless war and instability in the region, and promoting illegal actions by Israel no matter how great the cost of those actions to US interests.

  6. Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 22, 2019, 12:53 pm

    Well, we all saw this coming, didn’t we? When the supposed ‘human rights’ report droppped the ‘o’ word, it was pretty obvious.

    Does it matter? Well, it’s obviously a gross violation of international law. And all part of the Trump/Kushner plan to take pretty much all the Palestinians’ legal rights ‘off the table’. But like with the embassy move, it’s unlikely any other county of note will follow the Yanks. And it won’t change anything on the ground. In one way you could say it’s a positive thing, as it finally destroys the ridiculous myth that an American govt – any American govt – could in any way be an ‘honest broker’ in these matters.

    It may delight the Israelis – and no not just the ‘right’ (they’re all well to the right by any normal standards) – but it does nothing to ease Israel’s existential dilemma.

    • RoHa on March 23, 2019, 4:55 am

      “it’s unlikely any other county of note will follow the Yanks.”

      Judging from past form, I’m surprised that Australia hasn’t already given its agreement.

      But not a country – or county – of note.

  7. Talkback on March 22, 2019, 4:45 pm

    It’s also the oil, stupid!

    “We’ve found an oil stratum 350 meters thick in the southern Golan Heights,” said Yuval Bartov, the chief geologist of, Genie’s Israeli unit, Afek Oil & Gas. “On average worldwide, strata are 20 to 30 meters thick, and this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities. …

    Oil exploration is likely to encounter legal problems as the Golan is regarded as occupied Syrian territory.”

  8. Talkback on March 22, 2019, 6:01 pm

    Read this, if you want to throw up:
    Ira Greenstein: Jared Kushner‘s Criminal Deal With Israel Behind U.S. Involvement In Syria For Genie Energy’s Control of the Golan Heights

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