Trump announces US recognition of Israeli claim on Golan Heights

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE on Monday signed a proclamation officially granting U.S. recognition of Israel’s claim over the Golan Heights, reversing decades of American policy regarding the disputed territory between Israel and Syria.  

Standing side-by-side with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Trump said he was taking the “historic action” because Iran and terrorist groups “continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel.”

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“This was a long time in the making. Should have taken place decades ago,” Trump told reporters as he signed the proclamation in the Diplomatic Reception Room.

Trump cited a Monday rocket strike Israel said was launched by Palestinian militant group Hamas that injured seven near Tel Aviv as the type of incident he wants to prevent, saying “we do not want to see another attack like the one suffered this morning.”

The announcement offers a major boost to Netanyahu, who is facing reelection in two weeks in a race in which he has been shadowed by a slew of corruption indictments.

Netanyahu, who wore a white shirt and red tie that matched Trump’s, played up his closeness with the U.S. president as an important asset for Israel.

“Israel has never had a better friend than you,” Netanyahu told Trump.

While the Israeli leader cut short his trip to Washington in response to the rocket attack, he told the president “it was so important for me to come here to the White House and thank you.”

Netanyahu had been scheduled to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual convention on Tuesday and join Trump for dinner at the White House.

Before Trump signed the proclamation, Netanyahu said the Israel Defense Forces had begun “responding forcefully” to the Hamas rocket attack and added he wanted to return home to “lead the people of Israel and the soldiers of Israel.”

Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War against its Arab neighbors and officially annexed the territory in 1981. The U.S. and other nations, however, did not formally recognize that claim, saying the land’s status should be settled in negotiations.

Syria’s foreign ministry condemned Trump’s decision, saying in a statement to news outlets that “Trump’s recognition is a blatant attack on Syria’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity.”

The Golan proclamation was the latest in a series of policy moves Trump has made that earned praise from the Israeli government, including moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and pulling out of the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement.

Trump telegraphed his decision last Thursday, tweeting that “it is time” for the U.S. to recognize Israeli control of the Golan Heights.