Trump tweets that Israel should have sovereignty over Golan Heights

Greece-Cyprus-Israel summit in Jerusalem

A change in the U.S. view of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, along with the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, was also hinted at last week when the State Department changed its usual description of the plateau from "Israeli-occupied" to "Israeli-controlled" in an annual global human rights report. The population of the region is now a mix of Syrian Arabs and Israeli settlers.

A formal announcement of the shift in USA policy looks set to come when Mr Netanyahu visits Washington next week.

Formally recognising Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights would mark a break in decades of United States foreign policy and fly in the face of worldwide consensus.

Within minutes, Netanyahu tweeted "Thank You President Trump!"

Israel captured east Jerusalem and the Old City in the 1967 Mideast war, and for decades, US officials refrained from visiting the Western Wall with Israeli leaders to avoid the appearance of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the city's most sensitive holy sites.

Netanyahu quickly expressed his thanks for Mr. Trump's tweet.

Shortly before that tweet, Pompeo had visited the Western Wall with Netanyahu - the first serving secretary to tour the contested area together with a senior Israeli official, in tacit recognition of Israeli rights there.

More news: Trump Backs Public Release Of Mueller Report

In 2017, Trump also went against decades of practice in recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, rather than the previously accepted Tel Aviv.

The Trump State Department has likewise dropped previous definitions of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as being "occupied" by the Jewish state. Iranian and Hezbollah forces have been supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops since the early days of the eight-year civil war.

Much of the world, including Canada, recognizes the Golan Heights as occupied territory.

Pompeo was expected to hold bilateral contacts with the three leaders.

Panetta, who was speaking on CNN, said the Golan recognition "gives up one of the chips that everyone thought would be part of a Middle East peace agreement deal".

The Golan announcement could help Trump improve his standing in America's pro-Israel camp, especially among his base of evangelical Christians, just ahead of next week's annual convention in Washington of AIPAC, the nation's most influential pro-Israel lobbying group.

Pompeo said regardless of who wins the upcoming elections, he was certain ties between the United States and Israel would remain close.

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