Pompeo to visit Western Wall with Netanyahu in break with diplomatic practice

by Garry Watts March 22, 2019, 1:28
Pompeo to visit Western Wall with Netanyahu in break with diplomatic practice

The president's tweet represents a departure from USA policy, which has for years referred to the territory seized by Israel from Syria over 50 years ago as the "Israeli-occupied Golan Heights".

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".

Netanyahu, who faces an election in Israel on April 9, has been pressing for the United States to recognize its claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The prime minister had been expected to raise the issue again with Trump during his visit to Washington, an Israeli official said. "At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights".

Iran has faced economic hardship since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew past year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed sanctions.

The White House announced Wednesday that Netanyahu would be welcomed in Washington over two days next week.

Israel's prime minister also thanked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday for the Trump administration's strong denunciations of Iran, which Israel regards as an existential threat.

"With all the joy of American recognition of the Golan Heights, it is essential to say: The "Golan in exchange for Hamastan" deal is a danger to Jewish settlements and to Israel".

"If some (thing) will happen from Lebanon toward Israel, we will hold Lebanon as the responsible (party)", Rivlin said.

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'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.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967 and formally annexed the territory in 1981.

The Golan Heights" role as a Middle East political football intensified this week when the State Department stopped referring to it as "Israeli-occupied' territory, a designation favored by Palestinians.

Netanyahu has accused Iran of attempting to set up a terrorist network to target Israel from the Golan Heights, using the incident to repeat his goal of worldwide recognition for Israel's claim on the area.

The tweet came during a visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Jerusalem.

"If the Palestinian Authority will collapse, we will have to take care about what is going on", he said.

Trump will host Netanyahu at the White House next Monday and Tuesday.

She also suggested that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbying group was paying United States politicians to support Israel.

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