Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Trump made formal a move he announced in a surprise tweet last week.
The president said it was time for the U.S. to take the step after 52 years of Israeli control of the strategic highlands on the border with Syria. The U.S. is the first country to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, which the rest of the international community regards as Israeli-occupied.
Trump said his decision would cement the Jewish state’s ability to defend itself from regional threats should a broad Arab-Israeli peace deal ever be reached. Trump’s action also likely gives Netanyahu a political boost ahead of what’s expected to be a close Israeli election. During his 90-minute visit to the White House, reporters and photographers were invited to see Netanyahu at least four times: his arrival at the South Lawn, the signing of the declaration in the Diplomatic Room, a walk through the Colonnade and in the Oval Office.
Syria denounced the U.S. move as “blatant aggression” on its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The foreign ministry said Trump’s step represented the “highest level of contempt for international legitimacy” and showed that Washington was “the main enemy” of Arabs. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told Syrian TV that the Golan is a Syrian-occupied territory and that Trump decision will only isolate America.