The US will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence told the second day of the AIPAC annual conference in Washington.
Speaking in front of a packed audience and to rapturous applause, the Pence said that President Trump will later today, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side, “formally recognize” Israel’s right to the Golan Heights for the first time in 52 years.
He added that Israeli access to the Golan Heights “was critical to the strategic security of the state of Israel,” and praised Trump for being the US leader who “took action.”
Pence’s comments come a week after Trump tweeted support for recognizing Israeli ownership over the territory, which it has occupied since 1967, despite the UN ruling that the annexation was “null and void.”
The announcement comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin visits Washington on what was supposed to be a four-day visit to the US capital.
However, Netanyahu said Monday that he will return to Israel after a scheduled meeting with Trump, following a rocket attack from Gaza that stuck northern Tel Aviv in the early hours of Monday morning.
Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, which is home to some 27,000 Syrians, has long been deemed illegal by world leaders with long-standing US allies such as Turkey and the EU already backing Syria’s claim to the land.
Arab League members have also denounced Trump’s pro-Israel stance on the occupation, previously blasting it as “completely beyond international law.”
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