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March 25, 2019 12:22 pm

With Netanyahu Looking On, Trump Officially Grants US Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan

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US President Donald Trump welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House in Washington, DC, March 25, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Carlos Barria.

US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Monday officially recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The signing ceremony took place as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House for a sit-down with the US leader.

After his meeting with Trump, Netanyahu was set to fly back to Israel to deal with the aftermath of Monday’s rocket attack on a moshav north of Tel Aviv.

Signing the document as Netanyahu looked over his shoulder, Trump said: “This was a long time in the making.”

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He handed the pen that he used for his signature to Netanyahu, and said: “Give this to the people of Israel.”

Netanyahu welcomed Trump’s move and said Israel has never had a better friend. He harked back to two previous Middle Eastern wars as the reason why Israel needs to hang on to the Golan.

“Just as Israel stood tall in 1967, just as it stood tall in 1973, Israel stands tall today,” Netanyahu said. “We hold the high ground and we should never give it up.”

Netanyahu — the head of the right-wing Likud party who is deadlocked in the polls with centrist Blue and White challenger Benny Gantz ahead of the April 9 national election — had originally been slated to address the American Israel Public Affair Committee’s annual policy conference on Tuesday at the Washington Convention Center.

Gantz spoke at the AIPAC gathering on Monday before also returning to Israel.

Last Thursday, Trump announced his Golan decision via Twitter, saying, “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

Israel took control of the basaltic plateau from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967, and annexed it in 1981 — a step not recognized internationally.

In ultimately fruitless peace talks held by Israel and Syria in the 1990s and 2000s, the return of the Golan was the Assad regime’s main demand.

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