White House officials are currently writing the draft of the official U.S. declaration recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which will be signed when U.S. President Donald Trump receives Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington next week.
“After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which are of vital strategic and security importance to Israel and to regional stability,” Trump wrote days ago in a Twitter message, reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy on the issue.
Israeli leaders are euphoric about the announcement, and Netanyahu said that “the message President Trump has given the world is that the United States is with Israel.
The measure has been seen as a great endorsement for Netanyahu within weeks of the general election, scheduled for April 9.
However, Trump denies that his decision has anything to do with the upcoming Israeli parliamentary elections.
“I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time,” Trump told Fox Business Channel, comparing the move to his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
“I didn’t even know about that. I wouldn’t even know about that,” the U.S. president replied when asked about his apparent interference in the Israeli elections. “I have no idea. I hear he’s doing well. I don’t know if he’s doing well right now, but I heard he’s doing well,” Trump said.
“But I imagine that the other side, whoever is against him, is also in favor of what I just did,” he added.
Trump’s statement was strongly condemned by Syria and its allies, Russia and Iran, and also by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry called Trump’s statements “irresponsible” and said they violated U.N. resolutions regarding the territory’s status.
“Syria condemns in the strongest terms the US president’s irresponsible statements which confirm the US’s blind partiality towards the ‘Zionist entity’ and unlimited support for its aggressive behavior,” said a Syrian foreign ministry official quoted by the Syrian official news agency SANA.
“The Syrian people have now become more determined to liberate the Golan Heights by all available means.
The source added that Trump’s statement “has no legal effect” and will not alter “the fact that the Golan was and will be Syrian.
Russia, which is supporting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the brutal civil war in Syria, condemned Trump’s statement as a violation of UN decisions.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said: “This illegal and unacceptable recognition does not alter the fact that the Golan belongs to Syria.”
Some observers see Trump’s move as a response to Iran’s growing regional influence that appears to be gradually seizing Lebanon and Syria.