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President Trump says it's time for the U.S. 'to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights'


The move is being called 'a political gift' to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has declared it's high time the United States officially recognizes Israel's authority over the long-disputed Golan Heights region, in a move Bloomberg called "a political gift to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."

What are the details?

On Thursday, the president tweeted, "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!"

The Washington Post reported that Trump's statement "puts his administration on record as backing a key political priority of Netanyahu's just three weeks before Israel's national elections."

Netanyahu responded by thanking President Trump via Twitter for "boldly" supporting his country's control of the territory, "at a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently visiting Israel, and joined Netanyahu for a news conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The prime minister made a plea during the presser for the world to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights — which it took over from Syria in 1967 and annexed in 1981, according to Bloomberg.

"I can say that all of you can imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan," Netanyahu said. "I think it's time the international community recognizes Israel's stay in the Golan, the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the state of Israel."

On Thursday, Pompeo visited the sacred Western Wall with Netanyahu, in a move that could anger Palestinians who also claim the area. According to AFP, Pompeo is the first high-ranking American official to visit the site alongside an Israeli prime minister, "providing another boost to Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election campaign."

Netanyahu will visit the White House early next week to visit with President Trump, Reuters reported, "reaffirming the two leaders' close ties."

Anything else?

Israel's national election is scheduled for April 9, and Netanyahu is in a battle to keep his long-held leadership position. Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit recommended criminal charges against the prime minister last month, stemming from three corruption probes.

The prime minister is accused of accepting gifts from wealthy friends and doing political favors in exchange for positive press coverage. Netanyahu has repeatedly maintained his innocence, and no charges can be filed until after the election, The Associated Press reported.

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