Trump Officially Recognizes Golan as Israeli

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump has officially recognised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967, in a move hailed as "historic justice" by the country's prime minister.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces an election next month, was by Trump's side as he signed the proclamation.

Syria said Trump's decision was "a blatant attack on its sovereignty".

Israel captured the Golan in a 1981 war with Syria, in a move not recognised internationally. For decades, Washington took the same line, but last week Trump announced his plan to overturn decades of US policy in a tweet. In response, Syria has vowed to recover the area "through all available means".

But Netanyahu told reporters gathered in Washington that Israel "shall never give it up". "Your proclamation comes at a time when Golan is more important than ever for our security," he said, citing threats from Iranian forces in Syria. It is, he added, "a two-fold act of historic justice".

"Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of self-defence and the Jewish people's routes in the Golan go back thousands of years," Netanyahu said.

However, there is little sign any other countries will be following in US footsteps. A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "clear that the status of Golan has not changed".

Russia - which has been providing military support to President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict - warned the decree "could drive a new wave of tensions in the Middle East region". Meanwhile, Turkey - which has been supporting the Syrian opposition - said it was "impossible" to accept the US decree, adding it planned to take action against it at the UN.

The region is located about 60km south-west of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and covers about 1,200 sq km. Israel seized most of the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East war, and thwarted a Syrian attempt to retake the region during the 1973 war. The two countries agreed to a disengagement plan the nest year that involved the creation of a 70km-long demilitarised zone patrolled by a United Nations observer force. But they remained technically in a state of war.
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