U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday recognized the disputed Golan Heights as Israeli territory in an election boost for visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, drawing a sharp response from Syria, which once held the strategic land.
Trump signed a proclamation officially granting U.S. recognition of the Golan as Israeli territory – a dramatic shift from decades of U.S. policy.
Trump announced the move in a tweet last Thursday.
Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.
Netanyahu, who faces an election on April 9, earlier on Monday said he was cutting short his four day U.S. visit after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, blamed on Hamas, wounded seven people near Tel Aviv. Israel launched retaliatory air strikes in Gaza.
Syria reacted swiftly to Trump’s proclamation, calling it a “blatant attack” on its sovereignty and territorial integrity and saying it had a right to reclaim the Golan.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “clear that the status of Golan has not changed”.
A U.N. Security Council resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member body in 1981 declared that Israel’s “decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.” It also demanded Israel rescind its decision.
NATO ally Turkey termed the U.S. recognition unacceptable and said it would take action against it, including at the United Nations. The Arab League also condemned the move.