By COLlive & AP
In a move that was hailed as historic, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, reversing more than a half-century of U.S. policy.
Standing alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Trump made formal a move he announced in a tweet last week on the holiday of Purim.
The decision was warmly received by Israeli political leaders from across the aisle, military officials and citizens who see it as a strategic territory. Netanyahu had pressed for such recognition for months.
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.
“Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel — very violent attacks,” Trump said. “This should have been done numerous presidents ago.”
Present at the meeting were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, National Security Advisor John Bolton, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.
“Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” said Netanyahu, who has fought in the Golan Heights during his service in the Israel Defence Forces. “Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate it,” he stated.
VIDEO: Netanyahu meets Trump
Following the meeting, Netanyahu will be leaving Washington, DC, earlier than planned to monitor Israel’s response to the terror rockets from Gaza on Monday morning.
Netanyahu, who is in the midst of a close election race, was looking forward to maximizing his visit to the US capital to advance Israel’s security interests.
“There has been a criminal attack on the State of Israel and we will respond forcefully,” Netanyahu said in a video on Monday morning, “In a few hours I will meet with President Trump. I will return to Israel immediately afterward.”
By flying back early, Netanyahu won’t be delivering his planned address in-person at the AIPAC conference, the largest pro-Israel gathering in North America, and won’t be meeting with congressional leaders.