Trump says US should recognize Golan Heights as part of Israel

Richard Haass, a former senior State Department official who is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a tweet he strongly disagreed with Trump's Golan decision.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hosting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem. Pompeo was asked about the issue, but declined to answer.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981, a step tantamount to annexation.

Earlier this month, a senior U.S. administration official told reporters in Washington that there was "no change in [US] outlook or our policy vis-a-vis these territories and the need for a negotiated settlement there".

Previous US administrations have treated Golan Heights as occupied Syrian territory, in line with United Nations security council resolutions.

Iran has faced economic hardship since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew past year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed sanctions. President Michel Aoun called Hezbollah's arms "an essential part of defending Lebanon", though Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said its weapons were illegitimate. 'All of you can imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan: We would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee'.

Israel captured east Jerusalem and the Old City in the 1967 Mideast war, and for decades, US officials refrained from visiting the Western Wall with Israeli leaders to avoid the appearance of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the city's most sensitive holy sites. Palestinian leaders, who broke off contact with Washington after the recognition of Jerusalem by Trump, say they expect the plan to be blatantly biased in favor of Israel.

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Netanyahu is one of Trump's strongest backers on the global stage.

Members of Netanyahu's ruling Likud party were quick to praise the prime minister for the shift in United States policy.

Mr. Trump has maintained close ties with Israel since taking office.

It later annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem in moves never recognized by the worldwide community. The population of the region is now a mix of Syrian Arabs and Israeli settlers.

Recently, speaking about the disputed territory of the Golan Heights, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran, Israel's long-term rival in the region, of establishing a terrorist network in the area.

"It's time that the USA and the worldwide community recognize that Israel is staying on the Golan and the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the State of Israel", the prime minster said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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