Top U.S. and Israeli leaders called it an historic moment. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Western Wall, the first time a top US diplomat had visited the Jewish holy site alongside a senior Israeli official. For decades, top US officials refrained from visiting the site with Israeli leaders to maintain a sense of neutrality in deciding eventual control of Jerusalem in the negotiations over the creation of a Palestinian state. The visit was followed by this Tweet from President Donald Trump, saying it is time after 52 years for the U.S. to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights. Israel captured the Golan Heights which overlooks northern Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-day War and annexed the strategic plateau in 1981.
Syria demands its return as a basis for any future peace treaty with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he phoned Trump to thank him. He did it again. First, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. embassy here. Then he pulled out of the disastrous Iran treaty and we imposed sanctions. But now he did something of equal historic importance. He recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. stands with Israel. President Trump made the decision to recognize that that hard-fought real estate. That important place is proper to be a sovereign part of the State of Israel. Netanyahu’s government is headed to a tough April 9th election contest as the Prime Minister is embroiled in a corruption investigation and faces allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Some analysts said Pompeo’s visit appears in time to help him out. It’s clear that the intention is to give a boost boost to Bibi Netanyahu in this election bid. This administration has been clearly, I mean, brazenly partial in terms of the political occurrences in Israel and its support for Benjamin Netanyahu. So I think it’s time to give Bibi, it’s time to give Bibi a boost. Pompeo and Netanyahu also agreed to work together to counter what they term Iranian aggression in the region, likely the focus of the Secretary’s visit to Lebanon Friday.
Cindy Sain VOA News the State Department.