Donald Trump to recognise Israel sovereignty over Golan Heights

Greece-Cyprus-Israel summit in Jerusalem

President Donald Trump said Thursday that it's time for the United States to recognize Israel's control over the disputed Golan Heights, an announcement that signals a shift in US policy and comes ahead of the Israeli prime minister's planned visit next week to the White House.

However, Leon Panetta a veteran Democrat who served as Central Intelligence Agency director and defense secretary, among other roles, blasted Trump for "tweeting out another policy that obviously has not been worked out with our global partners".

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's (s) overeignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Netanyahu tweeted his gratitude.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now in Israel meeting with Netanyahu just weeks before a heated Israeli election and the two men were about to hold a news conference.

Trump's announcement came as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Jerusalem, lauding warm ties with Israel and promising to step up pressure on Iran.

The Golan is recognised as part of Syria by the United Nations.

Head of the Golan Heights Regional Council Haim Rokah said it was "about time" and called on Israel to increase funding and investment for the region "and double the population".

'Just last week we uncovered efforts by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, to build a military network in Syria, in the Golan Heights, ' Netanyahu said during a press conference. Last week, the State Department dropped a reference to the Golan being under Israeli occupation.

Trump called the Golan - a strategic area seized from Syria and annexed in a move never recognized by the worldwide community - "of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!"

President Trump wrote on Twitter that Israel should have full sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War. We had a moving visit today to the Wall. UN Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from Golan and other territories it occupied in 1967, including Gaza and the West Bank.

The White House said Netanyahu would be welcomed next Monday and Tuesday with both a working meeting and a dinner with Trump.

Netanyahu had been expected to raise the issue again with Trump during his visit to Washington, an Israeli official said.

Trump's move appeared to be his most overt yet to help Netanyahu, who is locked in a closely contested race in the April 9 election while also fighting allegations of corruption, which he denies. But there's also a more timely political angle here.

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