Time for the U.S. to 'recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights'

Saul Bowman
March 22, 2019

His decision will be seen as a diplomatic coup for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Shortly after entering office in January 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump visited the Western Wall, though without Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Awad drew a link between Trump's domestic policies against immigrants and Muslims, and Netanyahu's foreign policy.

His remarks came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Jerusalem.

Pompeo also discussed the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, where opposition leader Juan Guaido's chief of staff was arrested and detained by disputed President Nicolas Marrero's intelligence forces.

Standing together in Jerusalem Thursday, neither Netanyahu nor Pompeo mentioned the heated Israeli election campaign.

Trump's move appeared to be his most overt yet to help Netanyahu, who is locked in a closely contested race in the April 9 election while also fighting allegations of corruption, which he denies.

Pompeo has said his trip has nothing to do with politics. Peace talks between Syria and Israel have continued on and off since Israel unilaterally annexed the area in 1981, a move which was not recognized internationally.

"You could imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan", he said.

"The message to people out there, in the region particularly, and worldwide: If you have military power, and you have United States support, go ahead and occupy other people's land by force", Jahshan told MEE.

This marked the first-ever tour of the Jewish holy site by a top American diplomat accompanied by an Israeli official. "What do we expect from a racist president except spewing racist policies and positions against people of colour, minorities and people under the occupation?"

Pompeo and Netanyahu prayed at the wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, before depositing written prayers in its crevices and then touring nearby tunnels and synagogue.

"Every single person was supportive of the idea", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The strategically important land is recognized as part of Syria by the United Nations and UN resolutions have called for Israel to withdraw from the areas, as well as other occupied territories, including Gaza and the West Bank. "I think it will be very special".

"U.S. policy as it relates to the Golan Heights has been probably been one of the most consistent and long-standing positions we've had on any Arab-Israeli issue", said Scott Lasensky, former advisor to the USA ambassador to Israel under the Obama administration. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. "It makes it quite hard for the USA to continue to contest Russia's annexation of Crimea under the principle that taking territory by force is illegal", wrote Ilan Goldenberg, Middle East security director at the Center for a New American Security, on Twitter. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital.

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