Saudi Arabia denounces US recognition of Golan Heights as Israeli territory

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International desk, Mar 26: Saudi Arabia denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency said early on Tuesday.“Attempts to impose fait accompli do not change the facts,” the statement said. It said the Golan Heights was an “occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions”.

“It will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region,” it said.

Trump, with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking over his shoulder during a visit to Washington, signed a proclamation on Monday officially granting U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

The Saudi Press Agency report described Monday’s declaration as a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.

Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights in an election boost for visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, prompting a sharp response from Syria, which once held the strategic land.

With Netanyahu looking over his shoulder at the White House, Trump signed a proclamation officially granting U.S. recognition of the Golan as Israeli territory – a dramatic shift from decades of U.S. policy.

The move, which Trump announced in a tweet last Thursday, appeared to be the most overt gesture by the Republican president to help Netanyahu, who had been pressing Trump for the move since February 2017.

Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

Netanyahu, who faces an election on April 9, earlier on Monday said he was cutting short his U.S. visit after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, blamed on Hamas, wounded seven people near Tel Aviv. Israel launched retaliatory air strikes in Gaza.

Israel’s prime minister arrived in Washington on Sunday, originally for a four-day trip.

His chief rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, also visited the U.S. capital, telling a major pro-Israel lobbying organization that he was the better alternative to lead the country.

In signing the proclamation, Trump said “This was a long time in the making.”

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

The prime minister welcomed Trump’s action and said Israel had never had a better friend. He harked back to two previous Middle Eastern wars in justifying Israel’s need to hang on to the Golan.

Source: News Agencies and Reuters