Trump vows to recognize Israeli sovereignty over disputed Golan Heights region

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a regional tour also including Kuwait and Lebanon

Last month, other American lawmakers, namely Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), together with Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), introduced a resolution "to ensure that Israel retains control of the Golan Heights".

Trump said the Golan "is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!"

Minutes later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his appreciation.

The Trump decision to recognize the Golan now gives Netanyahu a significant boost before the election, but will also also trigger criticism that the United States president is blatantly meddling in the Israeli elections.

Donald Trump became the first sitting American president to visit the wall, the holiest site where Jews are allowed to pray, during his trip in May 2017.

Trump's abrupt announcement was immediately cheered by Netanyahu, who faces a tough reelection battle and visits Washington next week.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hosting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu thanked the United States president for his decision to "boldly recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights", on his official Twitter page.

The Golan Heights move was hinted at a week ago when the State Department changed its usual description of the area as "occupied" to "Israeli-controlled".

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In early May, a number of positions in the Golan were struck by what Israel said were Iranian missiles fired from Syria.

The prime minister also accused Iran of attempting to set up a terrorist network to target Israel from the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

While Pompeo avoided the issue of sovereignty over the Golan during his visit to Israel on Wednesday, he lauded the White House's warm ties with the Jewish state and promised to step up pressure on Iran, giving a public boost to Netanyahu at the height of a tight re-election campaign.

Trump's latest shakeup comes ahead of the expected unveiling of a White House plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"I'm looking forward to going to the wall with the PM", he said. Netanyahu raised the possibility of US recognition in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017.

"With such threats a daily reality of Israeli life, we maintain our unparallelled commitment to Israel's security and firmly support your right to defend yourself", he 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.

"I've called you so many times, on so many things that this evening I just want to say one word-two actually: thank you".

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