President Donald Trump officially recognizes Israeli sovereignty of Golan Heights

President Donald Trump holds up a signed proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. (AP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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President Donald Trump officially recognizes Israeli sovereignty of Golan Heights

  • Israel captured the region from Syria in 1967 war
  • Gulf Cooperation Council last week expressed regret at Donald Trump's plan

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights in Washington on Monday.

The document reverses more than a half-century of US policy as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

Trump had previewed the move in a tweet last week, in which he said the US would take the step after 52 years of Israeli occupation of the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.

Israel captured the region from Syria in 1967 but its sovereignty over the territory is not recognized by the international community.

Reaction across the Middle East widely denouced Trump's decision, with the Syrian government calling Washington's recognition of Israeli claims over the territory an attack on its sovereignty.

“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,” the unnamed source said.

The president of the Arab Parliament, Dr. Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami, categorically rejected Trump's decision, condemning it and saying it was “null and void” with “no legal effect,” according to Saudi Press Agency.

He pointed out that the American decision threatened the international order and “shook its foundations” and that it would increase tension and instability, as well as the peace and security of the region.

Lebanon also slammed the decision and Jordan rejected Trump's recognition of “occupied Syrian territory.”

Last Friday, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) expressed regret at Donald Trump's plan to recognise Israel's sovereignty over the territory.

Trump's statement “will not change the reality that (...) the Arab Golan Heights is Syrian land occupied by Israel by military force in 1967,” said Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the GCC secretary general.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he condemned the move by the US.

After Trump's decision, Russia warned it would prompt a “new wave” of tensions in the Middle East region. Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the move “ignores all international procedures” and would “only aggravate the situation.”

“Unfortunately, this could drive a new wave of tensions in the Middle East region,” Zakharova said in a radio broadcast, according to Russian news agencies. 

Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov said the US decision leads to “a gross violation of international law, blocks the resolution of the Syrian crisis and aggravates the situation in all the Middle East,” he said during a telephone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to his ministry.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was “impossible” for his country to accept Trump’s decision, and added his country would take action, including at the United Nations.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was “clear that the status of the Golan has not changed,” according to a UN spokesman.

The move came on the same day that Israel’s military launched strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, hours after a rocket from the Palestinian enclave hit a house and wounded seven Israelis.

Witnesses and a security source in Gaza told AFP there had been at least two strikes on a site belonging to Hamas’s military wing in the west of the Gaza Strip. Details were not yet clear on the strikes.

(With Agencies)


Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

Updated 18 July 2019
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Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

  • Some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security, Abdollahian says

BEIRUT: “Lebanon must be kept out of all regional crises,” said Iran’s Shoura Council assistant speaker for international affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during a surprise visit to Beirut on Wednesday.

“We say at the top of our voice that Iran and its allies will not allow the Zionist entity and the US to damage the region’s security.”

Following his meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Abdollahian said that Tehran “is convinced that the security of Lebanon is the security of the region and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Abdollahian added that “some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security.”

He described his talks with Berri as “good and constructive.”

“We will not allow Israel, US to interfere with regional security.”

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s Shoura Council official

Abdollahian said: “We have come today to reaffirm that Iran fully supports the people, army, resistance and government of Lebanon, and we look forward to developing relations between our two countries until they reach the highest levels.”

He said he believes that the statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are for “domestic consumption,” accusing him of “making some moves in the region that are not in his favor.”

Netanyahu responded to a message from Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday by threatening Hezbollah during Israel’s Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said: “Let me be clear that if Hezbollah dares to commit an act of stupidity and attack Israel, we will deal a crushing military blow on Lebanon. But unlike Nasrallah, I do not intend to detail our plans. It would be enough to recall that, for years, Nasrallah dug terror tunnels, and we demolished them within a few days.”