Pompeo Threatens to Curb Israel Ties Over Growing Israeli Trade With China

Arturo Kim
March 23, 2019

The head of the Arab League, which suspended Syria's membership in 2011 over his handling of the civil war, rejected Trump's move and said the League fully supports Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Dan Altman, an assistant professor at Georgia State University who specialises in territorial conquest, says the USA has employed a policy of "non-recognition", for example by rejecting Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Israel's annexation of the territory was condemned by the the UN Security Council in resolution 497 that states "the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without global legal effect".

Russian Federation made clear on Thursday that it would never recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, suggesting Trump is aiming to harm the partnership between Russian Federation and Syria.

Much of the Golan Heights was seized by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and was annexed in 1981.

Begin made a decision to annex the Golan following an offer to the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad to withdraw from the area in return for normalization of relations with Syria, provided certain security concerns were met. Assad rejected the possibility of normalization of his country's relations with Israel.

The Gulf Cooperation Council said Trump's statement would not change the internationally recognised fact that the "Golan heights are Syrian lands forcefully occupied by Israel".

Earlier this afternoon, President Trump overturned decades of USA policy in the Middle East by announcing that the US will now recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

"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", said J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami.

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Pompeo told reporters the change in terminology was not accidental but rather a reflection of the reality on the ground that the Jewish state controlled the territory.

Since becoming president, Mr Trump has sought a hard-line stance against Iran.

At the meeting, the two men discussed the buildup of Hezbollah terror networks along Israel's northern border with Syria on the Golan Heights. For some time, the administration has been considering recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the strategic highlands, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), stated, "President Trump is right".

Top Turkish officials on Thursday slammed U.S. President Donald Trump's tweet seeking to legitimize Israel's invasion of the occupied Golan Heights. But little more than a statement from the president or secretary of state is necessary to secure the major USA policy shift.

It follows the US recognition in December 2017 of Jerusalem as Israel's capital - a decision that also drew global criticism as the disputed city's status remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. But the gesture was perceived as unfairly siding with Israel and prompted the Palestinians to cut contacts with US officials. "But we know this will stay Syrian land", said Sheikh Mahmoud Nazeeh, 70. The wall is one of Judaism´s holiest spots, but located in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu will address AIPAC's annual conference during his visit to Washington next week.

Mr Netanyahu has pressed the United States to recognise its claim and raised that possibility in his first White House meeting with Mr Trump in February 2017. It could help Netanyahu in the midst of a tough re-election battle, analysts said.

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