One month after recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, the Trump administration released on Tuesday the first official US government map depicting the occupied Syrian territory as part of Israel.
Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt posted a photo of the map on Twitter on Tuesday, welcoming the new addition.
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) April 16, 2019
“Welcome to the newest addition of our international maps system after @POTUS issued a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Greenblatt wrote.
Despite the State Department failing to also refer to the occupied West Bank and Gaza as occupied territories in its annual human rights report last month, the new map still depicts the West Bank as a separate territory.
The Golan Heights, West Bank, and East Jerusalem were captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Jerusalem was illegally annexed by Israel in 1980, and a year later Israel extended its “laws, jurisdiction and administration” into the Golan Heights, essentially annexing it as well in a move that today remains unrecognized by the international community.
Historically, world leaders, including former US presidents, have refrained from recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over those territories, and maintains that the continued settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is illegal.
But last month, as he did with Jerusalem, Trump completely changed the American discourse surrounding the territories, and broke with decades of US foreign policy in the region.
He justified his decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights by claiming that it was of “critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated Trump’s recognition as a “diplomatic victory,” saying Israel “won the Golan Heights in a just war of defense.”
Palestinian officials condemned the move at the time, accusing the US administration of “whitewashing the Israeli occupation.”
The publication of the new map comes amid growing media speculation surrounding Trump’s elusive “deal of the century,” specifically the future of the more than 190 illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Leading up to his reelection, Netanyahu utilized his political “win” with the Golan Heights recognition and vowed to “to extend Israeli sovereignty” to the occupied West Bank during his new term as PM, saying “I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements.”
When asked last week about Netanyahu’s promises not to evacuate “a single person” from the settlements, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he didn’t believe the premier’s rhetoric would hurt the Trump administration’s peace plan.
With talks of partial of even full Israeli annexation of the West Bank seemingly on the table, the map could signal an impending US decision regarding the status of the settlements in the territory, and as a result, what a future Palestinian state might look like under Trump’s vision.