U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, a border area seized from Syria in 1967.
“This was a long time in the making,” Trump said alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House. U.S. recognition for Israeli control over the territory breaks with decades of international consensus.
Netanyahu called the recognition “historic” and said the Golan Heights, which are still claimed by Syria, would remain permanently under Israeli control. “We shall never give it up,” he said.
“Your proclamation comes at a time when Golan is more important than ever for our security,” he said.
Why This Matters
The move drew swift criticism from the Syrian government.
“In a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, the president of the U.S. has recognized the annexation of the Syrian Golan,” a foreign ministry source said, according to state news agency SANA.
“Trump does not have the right and the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” he said.
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) March 25, 2019
Russia on Monday warned of a “new wave” of tensions in the Middle East after the U.S. Golan move.
The return of the territory has always been a key Syrian national demand, championed by government and rebels alike through the bloody civil war that has torn the country apart since 2011.
‘Disregard’ for International Law
Trump’s decision also broke with multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as decades of U.S. policy.
Last week, the Syrian government said the move flagrantly disregarded international law.
“The American position towards Syria’s occupied Golan Heights clearly reflects the United States’ contempt for international legitimacy and its flagrant violation of international law,” a foreign ministry source told the official SANA news agency.
Syria was joined by other countries, including Turkey, Russia and Germany, in condemning Trump’s decision.
Germany, a NATO ally of the U.S., criticized Trump last week in a tweet from its foreign ministry’s account.
“We have taken note of U.S. President Trump’s Tweet on the Syrian Golan Heights occupied by Israel. The position of Germany and the E.U. on the Golan Heights is unchanged and in line with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions,” the tweet said.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Canada also made clear that it would not be following along with their Southern neighbor’s decision.
“In accordance with international law, Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over the Golan Heights. Canada’s long-standing position remains unchanged,” the statement said.
“Annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law. Any declaration of a unilateral border change goes against the foundation of the rules-based international order.”
In a statement on Monday, Trump argued that Israeli control of the Golan Heights is necessary to its security.
“Aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel,” he said. “Any possible future peace agreement in the region must account for Israel’s need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats.”
Trump’s proclamation came as renewed violence broke out between the Israeli military and Palestinians in the Gaza strip, leading Netanyahu to cut his trip to Washington short.
More on the Subject
The Syrian government on Friday condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, saying it flies in the face of international law.