WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights in Washington on Monday.
The document reverses more than a half-century of US policy as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.
Trump had previewed the move in a tweet last week, in which he said the US would take the step after 52 years of Israeli occupation of the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel captured the region from Syria in 1967 but its sovereignty over the territory is not recognized by the international community.
The Syrian government said that Washington’s recognition of Israeli claims over the Golan Heights were a blatant attack on its sovereignty.
“In a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, the president of the US has recognised 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 legitimise the occupation,” the unnamed source said.
Last Friday, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) expressed regret at Donald Trump’s plan to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territory.
Trump’s statement “will not change the reality that (…) the Arab Golan Heights is Syrian land occupied by Israel by military force in 1967,” said Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the GCC secretary general.
After Trump’s decision, Russia warned it would prompt a “new wave” of tensions in the Middle East region. Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was “impossible” for his country to accept Trump’s decision, and added his country would take action, including at the United Nations.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was “clear that the status of the Golan has not changed,” according to a UN spokesman.
The move came on the same day that Israel’s military launched strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, hours after a rocket from the Palestinian enclave hit a house and wounded seven Israelis.
Witnesses and a security source in Gaza told AFP there had been at least two strikes on a site belonging to Hamas’s military wing in the west of the Gaza Strip. Details were not yet clear on the strikes.