US announcement on Golan recognition possibly as early as next week

Israel and US officials said the White House may be preparing an announcement on US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, possibly as early as next week, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Washington.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not yet been made public.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and PM Netanyahu met yesterday in Jerusalem to discuss the Iranian threat, energy, and regional issues, as part of the latter’s Middle East tour.

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“Just last week, we uncovered efforts by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, to build a terror network in Syria, on the Golan Heights. You can imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan. We would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. It’s time that the international community recognizes Israel’s stay in the Golan, the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the State of Israel”, Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting.

“I look forward to our discussions, and I look forward to my visit next week to Washington, where I will meet with President Trump. I believe that we can carry this relationship even stronger,” Netanyahu added.

Last week, Senator Lindsey Graham, US Ambassador David Friedman, and PM Netanyahu toured the Golan Heights.

Senator Graham said that he would work with Texas Senator Ted Cruz on a resolution for the United States recognition of the Golan Heights as a part of the State of Israel.

“To give this territory up would be a strategic nightmare for the State of Israel and who would you give it to?, Senator Graham said.

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Israel captured 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

Last week, the State Department changed its description of the Golan Heights from “Israeli-occupied” areas to “Israeli-controlled” areas– for the first time in history. This change in terminology was made in an annual global human rights report released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.