With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side at the White House, Trump made formal the U.S.’ recognition of Israeli control over the Golan Heights.
By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff
Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Monday recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, making formal a move he announced in a tweet last week.
The president said it was time for the U.S. to take the step after 52 years of Israeli control of the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Netanyahu had pressed for such recognition for months. Trump’s action gives him a political boost weeks before Israeli elections.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War but the international community has refused to recognize Israeli’s sovereignty over the territory. During the war, Syria and three other Arab nations attacked the Jewish state.
“Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel — very violent attacks,” Trump said.
“This should have been done numerous presidents ago,” Trump said.
The two leaders met as the Israeli military was striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket that hit a house in Israel wounding seven people.
“Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” said Netanyahu, who planned to return to Israel to manage the attack following his meeting with Trump and other U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.
He added, “Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate it.”
In a speech earlier Monday, Pence said the rocket attack “proves that [the] Hamas [terror group] is not a partner for peace.”
Pence told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that “Hamas is a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel, and the United States will never negotiate with terrorist Hamas.”
The rocket destroyed a residential home in the farming community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba. The sounds of air raid sirens jolted residents of the Sharon area, northeast of Tel Aviv, from their sleep shortly after 5 a.m., sending them scurrying to bomb shelters. A strong sound of an explosion followed.
The Israeli military quickly mobilized troops and called up reserves, setting the stage for a potential major conflagration shortly before Israel’s upcoming elections.
Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday for what was to have been a three-day visit.
In his remarks, Pence also took issue with comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that he said were anti-Semitic.
Omar has been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism since 2012, when she tweeted that “evil” Israel had “hypnotized the world.”
Recently, Omar accused supporters of the Jewish state of dual loyalty, a common trope in anti-Semitic conpsiracy theories, and claimed that AIPAC pays off elected officials to support Israel.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States, and any member who slanders those who support the historic alliance between the United States and Israel with such rhetoric should not have a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Pence said.