Pompeo boosts Israel's Netanyahu before election

Pompeo boosts Israel's Netanyahu before election

But that annexation has not been recognized by the worldwide community, which has regarded the Golan Heights as occupied territory and Israeli settlements there as illegal under global law.

About 20,000 Israeli settlers live in the Golan, which overlooks Syrian territory.

Next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Trump at the White House.

"President Trump made a bold decision to recognize that, an important decision to the people of Israel", Pompeo said.

Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, quickly tweeted his gratitude.

"I still remember some people telling me during the last election that Trump would be tougher on Israel than Clinton", Hasan tweeted.

Trump has consistently backed Israel when it comes to major regional disputes and a year ago sparked controversy and outrage among Palestinians and others when he moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and said the USA officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the praise of Trump, calling the move a "new Purim miracle". Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv, prompting the Palestinians to sever ties with the administration.

A couple look towards signs pointing out distances to different cities, on Mount Bental, an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, Israel January 21, 2019.

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At a meeting with Pompeo, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin expressed his deep concern about the Palestinians, both in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and under the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

In the past, the United States government had sought to avoid tacitly recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the parts of Jerusalem it took control of in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Mr Pompeo said his trip had nothing to do with politics or U.S. policy on Jerusalem, although for decades American officials refrained from visiting the Western Wall with Israeli leaders to avoid the appearance of recognising Israeli sovereignty over the city's most sensitive holy sites.

Netanyahu said he and Pompeo, at the start of their discussions, examined how to "roll back Iranian aggression" in the region. The wall is one of Judaism's holiest spots, but located in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem.

The Golan announcement is likely to further complicate Trump's long-awaited plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who served under President Barack Obama, said the move "raises a lot of concern" and said it is hard to not see this as an attempt to buttress Netanyahu's chances of remaining prime minister.

In 2000, Israel and Syria held their highest-level talks over a possible return of the Golan and a peace agreement, but the negotiations collapsed and subsequent talks also failed.

"It's going to create real problems with our Arab partners in that part of the world", he said. The Israeli leader will be in Washington for the annual conference of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pro-Israel lobbying group.

Mr Pompeo had earlier brushed questions about the change aside, but in comments to reporters ahead of a dinner with Mr Netanyahu and his wife at their Jerusalem home, the Secretary of State hailed the shift.

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