Minister says Trump to formally recognize Golan as Israeli territory Monday
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Minister says Trump to formally recognize Golan as Israeli territory Monday

US president will sign order during meeting with Netanyahu at White House, acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz writes on Twitter

US President Donald Trump (right) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Oval Office of the White House, March 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump (right) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Oval Office of the White House, March 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP/Evan Vucci)

US President Donald Trump will sign an order recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights when he meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Monday, Israel’s acting foreign minister said.

“President Trump will sign tomorrow in the presence of PM Netanyahu an order recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Israel Katz wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Trump tweeted Thursday that it was “time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” upending decades of US policy on the matter.

He however left unanswered if or when he would follow through with an order to do so.

Israel Katz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on February 17, 2019. (Sebastian Scheiner/Pool/AFP)

Israeli leaders were exuberant over the announcement, with Netanyahu saying “the message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel.”

The move was seen as a potential major boon to the prime minister less than three weeks before a general election. A signing ceremony with Trump in the White House would be an even greater boost for Netanyahu. But Trump has denied that his decision has anything to do with the Israeli election.

Ahead of his trip to Washington on Saturday, Netanyahu said that Trump’s stated intention to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would be on top of the agenda for his meetings with the president.

“I am going to talk with President Trump about the Golan, about his historic statement, about Syria, about the ongoing pressure on Iran and additional sanctions on Iran, which they have added and will add, about security and intelligence cooperation that is unprecedented.”

Netanyahu and his delegation are due in Washington early Sunday morning, but there are no events planned for that day, according to the itinerary of the trip sent to the traveling press.

A UN peacekeeper from the UNDOF force stands guard on a watch tower at the Quneitra Crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, March 8, 2013. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

On Monday, he will conduct a “working meeting” with Trump, which will focus on “the Iranian aggression, Iran’s attempts to establish military bases in Syria, and how to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office. “The two will also discuss strengthening security and intelligence cooperation.”

On Tuesday evening, Trump will host Netanyahu and his wife Sara for a second time, in the framework of a dinner. Earlier that day, at 9:30 a.m. Netanyahu is set to address some 18,000 people at the America Israel Public Affair’s Committee annual policy conference, whose motto this year is “Connected for Good.”

Trump’s move was condemned strongly by Syria and its allies Russia and Iran, as well as by the president of Turkey.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the move. “Mr. President Trump, you are not a ruler. You are not a ruler of the world. There is international legitimacy. There are international laws. If you want to be a ruler, you must abide by international legitimacy.”

The European Union on Friday stressed that it would not change its position on the Golan and does not consider it a part of Israeli territory.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981, a step tantamount to annexation. But the United States and the international community have long considered it Syrian territory under Israeli occupation. The plateau lies along a strategic area on the border between Israel and Syria.

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