USA pressure on Hezbollah, Iran is working, Pompeo says in Beirut

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Thursday

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Thursday

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981, a step tantamount to annexation.

In May 2017, Trump became the first sitting USA president to visit the wall, but did not ask Netanyahu to join him.

Mr Trump's remarks come as Mr Netanyahu faces a closely fought general election on 9 April, as well as a series of possible corruption charges.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Mr Trump's "unfortunate" declaration had brought the region "to the brink of a new crisis and new tensions". Spokespeople for the German government and the European Union made similar comments, saying they did not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

The head of the Arab League, which suspended Syria's membership in 2011 over his handling of the civil war, rejected Trump's move and said the League fully supports Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights. "Congressional passage would reinforce President Trump's decision as United States policy".

When Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, he said it did not determine the city's final borders.

Trump's foreign policy team did not respond favorably to similar requests regarding the Golan Heights a year ago, expressing frustration with Israeli officials for pressuring them over a major policy change so shortly after the administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Analysts say the move draws a red line and sends a strong signal to Iran that the United States stands with Israel on the Golan Heights.

The French foreign ministry said: "The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, occupied territory, would be contrary to worldwide law, in particular the obligation for states not to recognise an illegal situation".

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"At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognises Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights", the right-wing prime minister wrote on Twitter.

Washington has recognized the Golan as Syrian territory under Israeli occupation since the 1970s, subject to a negotiated settlement between the two nations still technically at war.

Iranian forces backing the Assad regime, its Lebanese ally Hezbollah and the Syrian Army have positions close to the Israel-Syria frontier.

Netanyahu will address AIPAC's annual conference during his visit to Washington next week.

"The United States has a moral and public obligation to prevent hostile forces eroding regional stability, and that is what we will do".

The ministry "stressed the importance that everybody should respect the resolutions of worldwide legitimacy and the United Nations Charter in respect of the inadmissibility of acquiring land by force", the statement said.

There was also quick approval from the senior Republican in the US Senate, Lindsey Graham, who is pushing for Congress to recognise Israeli control over the Golan.

While the United States has supported the modern Israeli state since its establishment in 1948, the Trump administration has dramatically shifted USA policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The US ambassador also recently accompanied Mr Netanyahu on a visit to the area. And the surprise would have been in the timing, not the substance, because the idea of the USA recognising Israel's sovereignty over the Golan has been under active consideration for some time.

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