Time to recognise Golan Heights as Israeli territory

US President Donald Trump speaks after touring the Lima Army Tank Plant at Joint Systems Manufacturing in Lima Ohio

US President Donald Trump in Ohio yesterday

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981, a move not recognized by the worldwide community.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces an election on April 9 and has been pressing for the United States to recognize Israel's claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Formally recognising Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights would mark a break in decades of USA foreign policy and fly in the face of global consensus.

There was no immediate response from the Syria, which has sought to regain sovereignty over the region.

While in Israel, Pompeo has frequently referenced the USA and Israel's shared commitment to countering Iran and earlier Thursday, he visited the United States embassy in Jerusalem, which moved there from Tel Aviv a year ago following's Trump recognition of the city as the country's capital. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war. Pompeo suggested that his own visit as the top US diplomat in Netanyahu's presence was significant.

There are more than 30 Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights, according to the BBC, and roughly 20,000 Syrians still living in the area.

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The move comes after the US State Department dropped the word "occupied" in relation to the Golan Heights in its annual human rights report for 2018, published last week.

A couple look towards signs pointing out distances to different cities, on Mount Bental, an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, Israel January 21, 2019.

The Trump decision to recognize the Golan now gives Netanyahu a significant boost before the election, but will also also trigger criticism that the USA president is blatantly meddling in the Israeli elections.

He said the move violates U.N. Security Council resolution 242, "which rules out acquiring territory by war and serves Israel as it says all states have right 2 live in peace". "You would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee". Pompeo, a devout Christian, also stopped at the church.

But Robert Malley, president of the Crisis Group consultancy, said the "intensely political" decision by Trump was "in disregard of global law" and "an ominous step at a time when voices in Israel calling for the annexation of the West Bank are growing louder". In recent years, Israel has carried out many airstrikes in Syria to halt what it says are Iranian arms transfers to the Hezbollah militant group, and to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in the country.

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