Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon blast Trump’s Golan Heights recognition
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Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon blast Trump’s Golan Heights recognition

Damascus calls shift in US policy a ‘blatant attack’ on its sovereignty, Beirut says move violates international law, while Moscow warns of fresh regional tensions

US President Donald Trump (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a Golan Heights proclamation outside the West Wing after a meeting in the White House March 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a Golan Heights proclamation outside the West Wing after a meeting in the White House March 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Russia, Syria, Lebanon on Monday criticized the United States for recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation formally recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured by Israel from Syria in 1967.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the recognition as “historic” and said the Golan would remain permanently under Israeli control.

“In a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, the president of the US has recognized the annexation of the Syrian Golan,” a foreign ministry source in Damascus said, according to state news agency, SANA.

“Trump does not have the right and the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” he said.

The unnamed source also said the unlimited support the US gives to Israel makes Washington the prime enemy of the Arabs, according to SANA.

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.

Russia also condemned Trump’s recognition on Monday, warning of a “new wave” of tensions in the Middle East in the wake of shift in US policy.

“Unfortunately, this could drive a new wave of tensions in the Middle East region,” Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a radio broadcast, according to Russian news agencies.

Ahead of the signing earlier on Monday, Trump said that recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan would help Israel defend itself against Iranian threats emanating from Syria.

He said the move would “allow Israel to defend itself” against the “significant security challenges it faces every single day.”

Netanyahu at the ceremony said the mountainous plateau along the Syrian border was “invaluable” to Israel’s self-defense, and the “historic decision has profound meaning for me and us and all Israelis.”

“We hold the high ground, and we will never give it up,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency said Tuesday the declaration could have “significant consequences for the peace process.”

The reversal of over a half century of US policy was also slammed by Lebanon, who said the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

In a statement carried by the NNA state news agency, the Lebanese foreign ministry said the Golan Heights “are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another.”

US President Donald Trump hands his pen to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after signing a Proclamation on the Golan Heights in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, March 25, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP)

The ministry said attempts by Israel to expand its territory by way of “force and aggression” would only isolate the Jewish state.

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