Netanyahu praises Trump’s Golan decision as he heads to Washington

Netanyahu thanked Trump for his move to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan as he boarded a plane to the U.S. to meet with the president.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised U.S. President Donald Trump for his historic decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights as he prepared to depart for Washington, D.C., early Sunday morning.

Netanyahu will meet with Trump on Monday and speak at at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference on Tuesday. He will also meet with leaders of the House and Senate.

Before departing from Ben-Gurion International Airport, Netanyahu  said “We have never had such a bond between the prime minister of Israel and an American president. This is a very, very important asset for the State of Israel and it is important that it continue to serve us.”

The prime minister said he would thank the president for his Golan decision and will discuss “continued pressure on Iran, about the additional sanctions that they have already imposed and will impose, and about the unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation between us.”

According to White House officials, Trump plans to sign a presidential memorandum regarding Israeli sovereignty on the Golan, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday. In December, 2017, the president signed such a memorandum recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Trump tweeted on March 21, “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

Minutes later, Netanyahu tweeted his thanks. “At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!”

The tweet came a day after Netanyahu pressed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel for a visit, for U.S. recognition of Israeli control of the Golan.

On February 26, following up on an earlier December effort to push for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) introduced companion resolutions in the House and Senate urging the United States to officially recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

This legislation will likely become the vehicle for congressional recognition of Israeli control over the Golan.

While Israeli opposition parties praised the U.S. administration’s move, there was criticism of the timing by some pundits, who say the announcement was meant to help Netanyahu in the April elections.

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Trump, when asked by Fox Business News Anchor Maria Bartiromo, on March 22, denied this was the case. “I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time,” he said. “It’s been a very hard decision for every president. No president has done it. This is very much like moving the Embassy to Jerusalem.”

“For years, other presidents have campaigned, they’ve said they’d do it. This is sovereignty. This is security. This is about regional security.”

Bartiromo asked: “This is not about Netanyahu’s reelection?”

“No, I wouldn’t even know about that,” the president said. “I hear he’s doing OK. I don’t know if he’s doing great right now. … But I imagine the other side, whoever’s against him, is also in favor of what I just did.”