In a historic declaration, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Israel‘s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In a statement on his twitter account, President Trump wrote: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”
Trump’s statement was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the historical equivalent to Washington’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, among other significant measures that were implemented by the U.S. leader. In a joint press conference with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Israeli Prime Minister stressed the significance of the American President’s decision, “at a time when Iran is trying to use Syria as a platform to attack and destroy Israel.” According to Netanyahu: “President Trump has just made history. I called him. I thanked him on behalf of the people of Israel. He did it again. First he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. embassy here. Then he pulled out of the disastrous Iran treaty and re-imposed sanctions. But now he did something of equal historic importance. He recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and he did so at a time when Iran is trying to use Syria as a platform to attack and destroy Israel. And the message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel.”
Netanyahu also referred to the significance of the timing of Trump’s decision, which coincided with the eve of the biblical holiday of Purim, during which the Jewish people commemorate God’s miracle of deliverance in ancient Persia, as chronicled in the book of Esther. “We are celebrating Purim when, 2,500 years ago, other Persians, led by Haman, tried to destroy the Jewish people. They failed then. And today, 2,500 years later, again Persians, led by Khamenei, are trying to destroy the Jewish people and the Jewish state. They are going to fail again. We are deeply grateful for the U.S. support. We are deeply grateful for the unbelievable and unmatchable support for our security and our right to defend ourselves and everything that you do on behalf of Israel and for the state of Israel in so many forms,” said the Israeli leader.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a statement on behalf of President Donald Trump and the American people, declaring the “bold decision” to recognize the Golan Heights as a sovereign part of the state of Israel, a justice for all the Israelis whom lost their lives in hard-fought battles during the 1967 Middle East war. Pompeo said: “As a cadet, I studied the battles of the Golan. There’s a famous battle called the Battle of the Valley of Tears, and it was Israeli heroism at its most amazing, saving this great nation at a time of enormous challenge, a threat that came from east of the Golan, from Syria, a tank battle of epic and historic proportion, of amazing Israeli bravery. Tonight President Trump made the decision to recognize that that hard-fought real estate, that important place, is proper to be a sovereign part of the state of Israel. President Trump made a bold decision to recognize that, an important decision for the people of Israel. It will truly be historic, and the people of Israel should know that the battles they fought, the lives that they lost on that very ground, were worthy and meaningful and important for all time.”
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and formally annexed the territory in 1981. Since then, however, the international community has never recognized the annexation it regarded the Golan Heights as occupied territory, and thus defined all Israeli communities within the region as illegal – in accordance with international law.
This position was yet again reiterated by UN special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, who reaffirmed the United Nations commitment to Security Council Resolution 497, which deemed Israel’s legislation on the matter of sovereignty “null and void and without international legal effect.” A similar statement was made by EU Spokeswoman Maya Kosyanic, who stressed that “The European Union’s position on the Golan has not changed, and under international law does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it occupied in 1967.” While several other statements condemned the American recognition as “irrelevant and illegal,” the most furious response to the measure came from Moscow. Oleg Morozov, who is a member of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, declared that “Russia will never recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” and accused Trump of being a damaging figure to the international community and Arab world.