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Syria slams Trump statement on Israel sovereignty in Golan

23 March 2019

Trump announced the shift during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Jerusalem.

The U.S. refers to the Golan Heights as an area "under Israeli control", instead of "occupied territory", for the first time in a human rights report issued today by the State Department.

Critics on Thursday swiftly condemned an announcement by President Donald Trump that he believes the US should recognize Israel's claim over the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory Israel has illegally occupied for over half a century.

Lasensky said Trump's move seemed to be "totally devoid of strategic imperative" and possibly aimed at helping Netanyahu win the vote. Lindsey Graham visited the Golan Heights with Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Netanyahu also expressed gratitude for Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv, and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement.

A senior administration official said Mr Trump had been discussing his Golan move over the last few days with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House national security adviser John Bolton, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and USA ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

"I've been thinking about doing that for a long time, it's been a very hard decision for every president, no president has done it", Trump said, adding that his decision felt in line with the U.S recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"It's going to create real problems with our Arab partners in that part of the world", he said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Trump's statement had brought the region to the edge of a new crisis.

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Trump made the momentous announcement via Twitter, his latest huge move towards backing Israeli's right-wing government at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is facing a corruption scandal and his toughest election in years.

"Attempts by the U.S.to legitimize Israel's actions against global law will only lead to more violence and pain in the region". Israel contends the region is a critical buffer zone between the nation and the conflicts throughout the Middle East as Syria's eight-year civil war has at times come close to the Golan boundary.

Egypt said on Friday it considers the Golan Heights as occupied Syrian land, also rejecting Trump's statement.

"And I think this plan presents a vision for that but doesn't sacrifice any of these core principles frankly of any of the faiths". The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

While Trump has the authority to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory, Congress is responsible for appropriations packages that would make the policy possible.

The Old City is home to Jerusalem's most sensitive holy sites, including the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where tradition says Jesus was entombed and resurrected. Pompeo, a Christian, also stopped at the church.

The President will also host the Prime Minister for dinner on March 26, the statement said.

"If Democrats are committed to bipartisan support for Israel, as they claim, they will get behind this effort", he said.

Syria slams Trump statement on Israel sovereignty in Golan