US President Donald Trump says the US should "fully recognise" Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian territory, an area annexed by Israel in 1967 and never recognised by international community.
President Donald Trump on Thursday announced the United States should recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, an area seized from Syria and annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.
"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognise Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights," Trump said in a tweet.
Trump called the territory "of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!"
Minutes later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his appreciation.
"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. Thank you President Trump!"
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2019
Trump's tweet came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Jerusalem. Reporters asked Pompeo about the issue, but he declined to answer.
The move is the second recent diplomatic bombshell dropped by Washington, which is Israel's main backer, in seeking to redraw the fraught Middle East map.
In 2017, Trump went against decades of practice by recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, rather than the previously accepted Tel Aviv.
Trump will host Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House next Monday and Tuesday.
The Israeli leader, who is running for re-election, will be in Washington for the annual conference of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pro-Israel lobbying group.
At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump! @realDonaldTrump— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 21, 2019
Israeli-Palestinian peace plan
The Golan Heights move was hinted at a week ago when the State Department changed its usual description of the area as "occupied" to "Israeli-controlled."
The Trump State Department has also dropped previous definitions of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza as being "occupied" by Israel.
Israel occupied the Golan Heights, West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Six-Day War.
It later annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem in moves never recognised by the international community.
Trump's latest shakeup comes ahead of the expected unveiling of a White House plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Palestinian leaders, who broke off contact with Washington after the recognition of Jerusalem by Trump, say they expect the plan to be blatantly biased in favour of Israel.