JERUSALEM (AP)– President Donald Trump said Thursday that it’s time for the United States to acknowledge Israel’s sovereignty over the contested Golan Heights, a statement that indicates a shift in U.S. policy and comes ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s prepared see next week to the White Home.

The administration has actually been thinking about recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, which Israel recorded from Syria in1967 Recently, in its annual human rights report, the State Department dropped the expression “Israeli-occupied” from the Golan Heights section, instead calling it “Israeli-controlled.”

” After 52 years it is time for the United States to totally recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical tactical and security value to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Trump tweeted.

Minutes later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his appreciation. “At a time when Iran looks for to use Syria as a platform to ruin Israel, President Trump boldly acknowledges Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!”

In addition to its policies toward the Palestinians, the U.S. has taken a hard line towards Iran, much to Netanyahu’s pleasure.

Trump’s statement came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Jerusalem, lauding warm ties with Israel and guaranteeing to step up pressure on Iran. Pompeo’s words provided a public boost to the Israeli leader at the height of a tight re-election campaign. Netanyahu is to be in Washington for two days next week– two weeks before Israel’s April 9 ballot.

Standing together in Jerusalem Thursday, neither Netanyahu nor Pompeo discussed the heated Israeli election campaign. But Netanyahu, dealing with a hard difficulty from a popular former military chief and reeling from a series of corruption claims, has repeatedly looked for to focus attention on his diplomacy record and strong ties with Trump.

Pompeo has said his journey has nothing to do with politics.

Netanyahu thanked Pompeo for the Trump administration’s strong stance versus Iran, which Israel relates to as an existential danger.

Netanyahu has implicated Iran of attempting to establish a terrorist network to target Israel from the Golan Heights, utilizing the event to repeat his goal of global recognition for Israel’s claim on the location.

” You could envision what would have occurred if Israel were not in the Golan,” he stated. “You would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.”

Pompeo paid a solemn check out Thursday to Jerusalem’s Western Wall in addition to Netanyahu in an obvious sign of assistance for Israel’s control of the objected to city.

Pompeo is the highest-ranking American official to tour the holy site with any Israeli leader. His visit was most likely to further exasperate the Palestinians, who currently have actually severed ties with the U.S. over its Jerusalem policies.

Pompeo and Netanyahu prayed at the wall, the holiest site where Jews can hope, prior to depositing composed prayers in its crevices and after that touring close-by tunnels and synagogue. Neither made any public comment at the website.

The secretary stated he believed it was very important to visit the wall with the Israeli leader as a program of support for Israel.

” I believe it’s symbolic that a senior American official go there with a prime minister of Israel,” he said before making the trip. “It’s a place that’s essential to lots of faiths and I’m eagerly anticipating it. I think it will be extremely special.”

Israel captured east Jerusalem and the Old City in the 1967 Mideast war, and for years, U.S. officials refrained from checking out the Western Wall with Israeli leaders to prevent the look of acknowledging Israeli sovereignty over the city’s most sensitive holy sites. The Palestinians look for east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

But the Trump administration has actually overthrown the longstanding policy, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in 2015 after acknowledging the city as Israel’s capital. Israel declares all of Jerusalem as its everlasting and indivisible capital.

Senior U.S. officials, consisting of Trump and many predecessors, have actually checked out the wall privately in the past, but never with an Israeli leader.

The Old City is house to Jerusalem’s the majority of sensitive holy sites, including the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where tradition states Jesus was entombed and reanimated. Pompeo, a devout Christian, also stopped at the church.

Beside the Western Wall is a hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The area, which as soon as housed the biblical Temples, is the holiest website in Judaism and today is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

The contending claims to the site are a regular source of tension and lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

When Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he said it did not determine the city’s last borders. However the gesture was perceived as unjustly siding with Israel and prompted the Palestinians to sever ties with the U.S. The Palestinians already have declined a planned Mideast peace effort by the administration.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, stated Pompeo’s visit added additional challenges to peace hopes. “While they are declaring to be trying to fix the conflict, such acts only make it more hard to fix,” he said.

While previous secretaries of state have actually generally consulted with the Palestinians when visiting the area, Pompeo has no such talks planned.

” The Israelis and Palestinians live side-by-side. We require to help them find out how to do that,” Pompeo said. “It’s a fact, and this administration wants well for the Palestinian individuals.”

In addition to the Jerusalem recognition, the administration also has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in help to the Palestinians, assisting sustain a financial crisis for Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.

At a conference with Pompeo, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin revealed his deep issue about the Palestinians, both in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and under the worldwide backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

” If the Palestinian Authority will collapse, we will need to make sure about what is going on,” he said.


Riechmann reported from Washington.

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