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The United States recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel through a presidential proclamation signed by U.S. president Donald Trump on March 25, 2019. The directive made the United States the first country to recognize Israeli rather than Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights region. The Golan Heights are widely viewed as Syrian territory under Israeli military occupation. The proclamation was seen as a political gift from Trump to help Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bid in the legislative election to be held two weeks after the recognition. The proclamation was criticized by those who had previously been critical of Israel's recognition, with Syria calling it a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Background

Israel captured Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and formally imposed Israeli law there with the Golan Heights Law in 1981, in a move that was not internationally recognized. The international community has condemned the capture and annexation as an illegal military occupation by Israel.* "The international community maintains that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void and without international legal effect." * In 2008, a plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly voted by 161–1 in favour of a motion on the "occupied Syrian Golan" that reaffirmed support for UN Resolution 497.
General Assembly adopts broad range of texts, 26 in all, on recommendation of its fourth Committee, including on decolonization, information, Palestine refugees
, United Nations, 5 December 2008.) * "the Syrian Golan Heights territory, which Israel has occupied since 1967". Also, "the Golan Heights, a 450-square mile portion of southwestern Syria that Israel occupied during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress: Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues
Congressional Research Service. 19 January 2006) * "Israeli-occupied Golan Heights" (Central Intelligence Agency
CIA World Factbook 2010"> CIA World Factbook 2010
Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009. pg. 339. .) * "...the United States considers the Golan Heights to be occupied territory subject to negotiation and Israeli withdrawal..."
"CRS Issue Brief for Congress: Israeli-United States Relations"
, Congressional Research Service, 5 April 2002. pg. 5. Retrieved 1 August 2010.) * "Occupied Golan Heights"
Travel advice: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 1 August 2010.) * "In the ICRC's view, the Golan is an occupied territory."
ICRC activities in the occupied Golan during 2007
, International Committee of the Red Cross, 24 April 2008.)
In December 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. embassy to the city, despite the international community viewing East Jerusalem as under Israeli military occupation.

Announcement

On March 21, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that it was "time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights." The move was welcomed by Israel. Dozens of people from the Druze community in the Golan Heights protested against Trump's announcement. Four days later, on 25 March 2019, in a joint press conference in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump signed a proclamation stating that "the United States recognizes that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel." The proclamation was signed in the context of Trump accusing his political opponents of allegedly making "anti-Semitic" comments in prior weeks. Trump designed the proclamation signing and Netanyahu's visit to the United States just two weeks prior to the April 2019 Israeli legislative election as a boost to Netanyahu's bid. The proclamation is also expected to raise Trump's popularity amongst pro-Israel voters in the United States.

Justification for the proclamation



American officials

The proclamation cited "aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria" as justification for Israel to maintain sovereignty over the Golan Heights as Israel has a "need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats." In refuting a supposed double standard in recognizing Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights but placing sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "What the President did with the Golan Heights is recognize the reality on the ground and the security situation necessary for the protection of the Israeli state. It’s that — it’s that simple." A State Department spokesperson claimed the day following the proclamation that "Israel gained control of the Golan through its legitimate response to Syrian aggression aimed at Israel’s destruction. Russia has occupied Crimea despite the fact that it has recognized Crimea as part of Ukraine in bilateral agreements and despite its international obligations and commitments, including core OSCE principles.”

Israeli officials

Netanyahu claimed at the press conference following the announcement that "Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of self-defence," referring to the 1967 war that began with Israel launching controversial pre-emptive strikes after Egypt, Jordan, and Syria began mobilizing troops towards the Israeli border. An anonymous Israeli official echoed Netanyahu's claims, telling ''The Washington Post'' that the recognition of the Golan Heights was justified since the occupied territory was gained in a "defensive war".

Reaction to claims of "defensive war"

The Electronic Intifada published an article were they stated: "Israel falsely argues that the 1967 war was “defensive,” despite the fact it began with an Israeli surprise attack on Egypt. In a 1976 interview, Israel's defense minister at the time of the war, Moshe Dayan, admitted that Israel's occupation of the Golan, as well as its provocations in the years preceding the war, were driven by a lust for conquest of land."

Reactions

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that "the status of Golan has not changed," and the US's move resulted in condemnation, criticism or rejection from the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, the Arab League, Russia, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Somalia, Lebanon, Japan, Cuba, Venezuela, Indonesia, Canada, Pakistan, Sudan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China. Syria called the move a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty and territorial integrity and maintained that it had a right to reclaim the territory. The state-owned news organization Syrian Arab News Agency reported that protests were held in several Syrian provinces against Trump's declaration. Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, whose group was mentioned as a threat to Israel in the proclamation, stated that "resistance, resistance, and resistance" was the only way to take back the Israeli-occupied territories. The move was praised by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, including President Reuven Rivlin, Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich, Labor leader Avi Gabbay, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon, and New Right co-leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.


Aftermath


On April 23, 2019, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he will bring a resolution for government approval to name a new community in the Golan Heights after Trump. On June 16, 2019, Israel announced the establishment of Trump Heights, a planned settlement in the Golan Heights.


See also


* United States recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel * Israel–United States relations * Israel–Syria relations * Syria–United States relations


References




External links


Proclamation on Recognizing the Golan Heights as Part of the State of Israel
full text of the proclamation {{Donald Trump Category:Golan Heights Category:2019 in international relations Category:2019 in Israel Category:2019 in Syria Category:2019 in American politics Category:2019 controversies Category:Israel–United States relations Category:Israel–Syria relations Category:Syria–United States relations Category:Trump administration controversies Category:March 2019 events in Asia Category:March 2019 events in the United States