United States recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel
|Proclamation on Recognizing the Golan Heights as Part of the State of Israel|
|Signed||March 25, 2019|
|Signed by||Donald Trump|
The United States recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel through a presidential proclamation signed by U.S. president Donald Trump on March 25, 2019. The directive made the United States the first country, other than Israel, to recognize Israeli rather than Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights region. The Golan Heights are widely viewed as Syrian territory under Israeli military occupation.
The proclamation was seen as a political gift from Trump to help Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bid in the legislative election to be held two weeks after the recognition. The proclamation was criticized by those who had previously been critical of Israel's recognition, with Syria calling it a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Israel captured Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and formally annexed it with the Golan Heights Law in 1981, in a move that was not internationally recognized. The international community has condemned the capture and annexation as an illegal military occupation by Israel.
In December 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. embassy to the city, despite the international community viewing East Jerusalem as under Israeli military occupation.
On March 21, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that it was "time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights." The move was welcomed by Israel. Dozens of people from the Druze community in the Golan Heights protested against Trump's announcement.
Four days later, on 25 March 2019, in a joint press conference in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump signed a proclamation stating that "the United States recognizes that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel."
The proclamation was signed in the context of Trump accusing his political opponents of allegedly making "anti-Semitic" comments in prior weeks. Trump designed the proclamation signing and Netanyahu's visit the United States just two weeks prior to the April 2019 Israeli legislative election as a boost to Netanyahu's bid. The proclamation is also expected to raise Trump's popularity amongst pro-Israel voters in the United States.
Justification for the proclamation
The proclamation cited "aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria" as justification for Israel to maintain sovereignty over the Golan Heights as Israel has a "need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats."
In refuting a supposed double standard in recognizing Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights but placing sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "What the President did with the Golan Heights is recognize the reality on the ground and the security situation necessary for the protection of the Israeli state. It’s that — it’s that simple." A State Department spokesperson said the day following the proclamation that "Israel gained control of the Golan through its legitimate response to Syrian aggression aimed at Israel’s destruction. Russia has occupied Crimea despite the fact that it has recognized Crimea as part of Ukraine in bilateral agreements, and despite its international obligations and commitments, including core OSCE principles.”
Netanyahu said at the press conference following the announcement that "Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of self-defense," referring to the 1967 war that began with Israel launching controversial pre-emptive strikes after Egypt, Jordan, and Syria began mobilizing troops towards the Israeli border. An anonymous Israeli official echoed Netanyahu's statement, telling The Washington Post that the recognition of the Golan Heights was justified since the occupied territory was gained in a "defensive war".
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that "the status of Golan has not changed," and the US's move resulted in condemnation, criticism or rejection from the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, the Arab League, Russia, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Somalia, Lebanon, Japan, Cuba, Venezuela, Indonesia, Canada, Pakistan, Sudan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China.
Syria called the move a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty and territorial integrity and maintained that it had a right to reclaim the territory. The state-owned news organization Syrian Arab News Agency reported that protests were held in several Syrian provinces against Trump’s declaration. Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, whose group was mentioned as a threat to Israel in the proclamation, stated that "resistance, resistance, and resistance" was the only way to take back the Israeli-occupied territories.
The move was praised by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, including President Reuven Rivlin, Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich, Labor leader Avi Gabbay, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon, and New Right co-leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.
On April 23, 2019, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he will bring a resolution for government approval to name a new community in the Golan Heights after Trump. On June 16, 2019, Israel announced the establishment of Trump Heights, a planned settlement in the Golan Heights.
- United States recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel
- Israel–United States relations
- Israel–Syria relations
- Syria–United States relations
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- Proclamation on Recognizing the Golan Heights as Part of the State of Israel, full text of the proclamation