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Standing alongside Netanyahu, Trump backs Israeli claims of sovereignty over disputed Golan Heights

The move breaks with decades of international consensus against Israel’s claims.


UPI 20190325 Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu outside the Oval Office. Source: PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has signed a proclamation recognising Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, a border area seized from Syria in 1967.

“This was a long time in the making,” Trump said alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House. US recognition for Israeli control over the territory breaks with decades of international consensus.

Netanyahu called the recognition “historic” and said the Golan Heights, which are still claimed by Syria, would remain permanently under Israeli control. “We shall never give it up,” he said.

“Your proclamation comes at a time when Golan is more important than ever for our security,” he said.

In response, the Syrian government has said that Washington’s move a blatant attack on its sovereignty.

The move, which breaks with decades of international consensus, drew criticism from the Syrian government.

“In a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, the president of the US has recognised the annexation of the Syrian Golan,” a foreign ministry source said, according to state news agency SANA.

“Trump does not have the right and the legal authority to legitimise the occupation,” he said.

The unnamed source also said the unlimited support the US gives to Israel makes Washington the prime enemy of the Arabs, according to SANA.

Russia warned that the move could prompt a “new wave” of tensions in the Middle East after the US Golan move.

“Unfortunately, this could drive a new wave of tensions in the Middle East region,” Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a radio broadcast, according to Russian news agencies. 

The White House meeting between Trump and Netanyahu came as Israel launched strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, hours after a rocket from the Palestinian enclave hit a house near Tel Aviv and wounded seven people..

Israel began its retaliatory strikes around the same time as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US President Donald Trump in Washington.

In comments from the White House, Netanyahu said: “Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression.”

Netanyahu said he would return home after meeting Trump, cancelling an address to pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual conference tomorrow.

The flare-up comes at a highly sensitive time for Israel, which holds elections on 9 April.

A security source in Gaza said there had so far been at least six strikes, including five in and around Gaza City and one in southern Gaza between Rafah and Khan Yunis.

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There were so far no reports of any casualties in Gaza.

Earlier today, a rocket from Gaza hit a house in Israel in a rare long-distance strike.

Israel’s army said the rocket was fired by Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, from the Rafah area.

A Hamas official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, denied the group was behind the rocket, evoking the possibility it was caused by “bad weather”.

In a statement this evening, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that Ireland regards the Golan Heights as Syrian territory under Israeli occupation: “The Government has no plans to alter that position.”

Annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law, including the UN Charter. This is a fundamental principle of the relation of states and the rule of law in the modern world.
Our view of the behaviour of the current Syrian government does not negate this principle.

“Israeli annexation, and recognition of it, also ignore the wishes of the inhabitants of the area,” the statement concluded.

© – AFP 2019

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