US President Donald Trump has said it is time to back Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, a move not recognized by most of the global community. Trump tweeted, without providing any other details.
"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights", Trump said in a tweet.
Members of Netanyahu's ruling Likud party were quick to praise the prime minister for the shift in U.S. policy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu & Secretary of State Mike Pompeo give remarks prior to their dinner this evening.
'I think, for this reason, and many more, it is time that the global community recognises Israel's stay on the Golan, and the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the State of Israel'. Pompeo, whose head was covered with a kippah, talked to rabbis, put a note between the wall's stones that remained from the Jewish temples destroyed in ancient times, and stood in silence, keeping his hand on the wall.
Netanyahu thanked the USA president for his decision to "boldly recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights", on his official Twitter page.
A change in the USA view of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, along with the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, was also hinted at last week when the State Department changed its usual description of the plateau from "Israeli-occupied" to "Israeli-controlled" in an annual global human rights report.
Pompeo explained that one of the main reasons for his visit to the region was to advance efforts begun last month at a gathering in Poland to build a regional alliance against Iran.
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".
The proximity of meetings in Jerusalem and next week's tête-à-tête in Washington to Israel April 9 election has caused some to accuse the Trump Administration of campaigning on behalf of Netanyahu.
Trump's latest shakeup comes ahead of the expected unveiling of a White House plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for the announcement.
"I'm looking forward to going to the wall with the PM", he said.
"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 will host Netanyahu at the White House next Monday and Tuesday.
That's a boost for Netanyahu, who is heading into a general election while plagued by corruption investigations.
The US secretary of state also noted Iranian calls for Israel's destruction.