US Abruptly Endorses Israel's Golan Sovereignty in Big Shift

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has intensified a push for US recognition of Israeli control over disputed territory with Syria, hoping that President Donald Trump will deliver a major diplomatic victory during his visit to Washington two weeks before his toughest election yet.

The Gulf Cooperation Council expressed its concern about the USA president's stance, while the European Union underlined that it does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights on Friday after Trump's statement over the territory viewed by European allies as occupied.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Trump's "unfortunate" declaration has brought the region "to the brink of a new crisis and new tensions".

Israel captured east Jerusalem and the Old City in the 1967 Middle East war. It's been an occupied territory ever since, in defiance of multiple resolutions by the United Nations.

The decision was condemned by Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, and the UN General Assembly demanded its cancellation.

Israel's Government says it also fears that Iran, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is seeking to establish itself permanently on the Syrian side of the border in order to launch attacks on Israel.

Speaker Berri said earlier in a statement that he had told Pompeo that Hezbollah's "resistance" against Israel was a result of continuing Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory.

"Attempts by the U.S.to legitimize Israel's actions against global law will only lead to more violence and pain in the region".

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Syria insists the part of the Golan held by Israel remains occupied territory and has demanded its return. But little more than a statement from the president or secretary of state is necessary to secure the major USA policy shift. The UN does not recognize the area as Israeli territory.

The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted may have in USA jurisdictions and bar Americans from any transactions with them.

During a visit here, US Senator Lindsey Graham said he'd push Congress to recognize the area as part of Israel because it's good for America. Previously, it had consistently referred to the region as "Israeli-occupied".

When Trump did so, he said it did not determine the city's eventual borders, but Palestinians viewed the USA action as tipping the scales toward Israeli control and cut ties with the U.S.

"The spontaneous decisions lift the curtain on the real policies of America - policies that are risky for the whole world and will push this sensitive region towards successive crises", Bahram Ghasemi said. "While they are claiming to be trying to solve the conflict, such acts only make it more hard to resolve", he said. "You should know that the United States is prepared to do that", Pompeo said in public remarks at the meeting.

"Now we need Congress to codify this policy", Neil Strauss, the digital director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Al-Monitor. The Palestinians have already rejected a planned Mideast peace initiative by the administration. I called him. I thanked him on behalf of the people of Israel. Netanyahu, facing a tough challenge from a popular former military chief and reeling from a series of corruption allegations, has repeatedly sought to focus attention on his foreign policy record and strong ties with Trump.

He's trashed the British Prime Minister.

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