In Golan Heights, Trump Bolsters Netanyahu yet Risks Roiling Middle East

President Trump declared on Thursday in which the United States should recognize Israel’s authority over the long disputed Golan Heights, delivering a valuable election-eve gift to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yet jettisoning decades of American policy inside the Middle East.

Mr. Trump’s announcement, in a midday Twitter post, came after persistent pressure by Mr. Netanyahu, a close political ally who will be fighting for his survival inside the election scheduled for April 9, in addition to has invoked his friendship with the American president as a prime argument for staying in office.

yet Mr. Trump’s move, while favorite in Israel in addition to among some lawmakers in Congress, will be likely to be condemned almost everywhere else. The United Nations has rejected Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights since 1967, when Israeli troops seized the 400 square miles of rocky highlands by Syria during the Arab-Israeli war.

the idea will also reverberate throughout the Middle East in addition to could undermine Mr. Trump’s long anticipated peace proposal for Israel in addition to the Palestinians. The White House has been enlisting support for the plan among Arab leaders who at This particular point face the prospect of acquiescing inside the loss of land they had long claimed as Arab.

As a practical matter, Mr. Trump’s announcement adjustments little. There will be no negotiation underway on the status of the Golan Heights, nor any expectation in which Israel will be going to withdraw by the idea. The United States could veto any United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the move.

yet as a symbolic step, the decision will be momentous — underlining Mr. Trump’s willingness to flout diplomatic orthodoxy in addition to shake up a debate over the Middle East in which has changed little since the 1970s.

“I’ve been thinking about doing in which for a long time,” Mr. Trump said to Fox Business Network in an interview scheduled to air on Friday. “Every president has said ‘do in which,’” he said, “I’m the one in which gets the idea done.”

Mr. Trump brushed aside suggestions in which he was trying to help Mr. Netanyahu inside the election, professing to be only vaguely aware of the Israeli leader’s political challenges. He plans to welcome Mr. Netanyahu to the White House next Monday.

Yet unlike the president’s earlier decision to move the American Embassy by Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which was mandated by Congress in addition to fulfilled a promise he made during the 2016 presidential campaign — one made by previous presidential candidates — This particular latest move was both a first for an American president in addition to almost purely a gesture to Mr. Netanyahu.

The Israeli leader welcomed the idea as such during a meeting in Jerusalem with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“President Trump has just made history,” said a beaming Mr. Netanyahu, who said he called the president to thank him on behalf of the Israeli people after his tweet. “He did the idea again.”

Praising Mr. Trump for moving the embassy in addition to for withdrawing the United States by the Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Netanyahu stridently opposed, the prime minister said, “The message in which President Trump has given the planet will be in which America stands by Israel.”

Mr. Netanyahu called the idea “a miracle of Purim,” referring to an ancient Jewish holiday being celebrated This particular week.

Palestinian officials, who have been alienated by the Trump administration since the idea moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, predicted in which the latest move might ignite a brand-new wave of violence inside the region.

“What shall tomorrow bring?” Saeb Erekat, a veteran Palestinian Authority peace negotiator, said in a tweet. “Certain destabilisation in addition to bloodshed in our region.”

The announcement was the latest in a series of steps in which have radically reshaped the United States’ role inside the conflict between Israel in addition to the Palestinians — overwhelmingly to the benefit of Israel’s right-wing government.

The president cast his decision as being of “critical in addition to strategic importance to the State of Israel.” various other administration officials in addition to defenders of the policy, including Republican senators, said in which Israel’s control of the Golan Heights was critical, with Hezbollah in addition to various other Iranian-backed militants threatening the idea by inside war-torn Syria.

In Jerusalem, Mr. Pompeo appeared caught off guard by the timing of Mr. Trump’s tweet. Hours earlier, Mr. Pompeo told journalists in which the United States’ longstanding policy on the Golan Heights had not changed. He then visited the Western Wall with Mr. Netanyahu — the very first time in which an American cabinet official had done so with an Israeli prime minister.

After the announcement, the two showed up nearly an hour late for a news conference, during which Mr. Pompeo called Mr. Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty a tribute to Israel’s warriors. The tank battle in which opened the way to Israel’s seizure of the Golan Heights was a testament to “amazing Israeli bravery,” Mr. Pompeo said, adding in which he had studied the idea as a West Point cadet.

Still, Mr. Trump’s announcement puts him at odds with international law in addition to decades of American policy.

The United Nations in addition to the United States have steadfastly refused to recognize Israel’s seizure of the Golan Heights or the West Bank, arguing in which the contours of Israel in addition to a brand-new Palestinian state must be negotiated diplomatically. In 1981, when Israel effectively annexed the Golan Heights, the Reagan administration retaliated by suspending a strategic cooperation agreement between the United States in addition to Israel.

Israel, however, has continued to administer the territory as part of its country, in addition to the Jewish population there has grown with the expansion of Israeli settlements. Since the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011, in addition to the intervention of Iran in addition to Russia, there was little international pressure on Israel to pull out of land widely viewed as critical to its security.

Former diplomats said Mr. Trump’s action was unnecessary in addition to might inflame an issue in which had been largely dormant. They also said the idea might embolden various other world leaders who seized territory in violation of international norms.

“Putin will use This particular as a pretext to justify Russia’s annexation of Crimea,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former peace negotiator in addition to American ambassador to Israel. “The Israeli right will use the idea as a pretext for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank. the idea will be a truly gratuitous move by Trump.”

Dennis B. Ross, another former Middle East negotiator, said the move might make the idea more difficult for Arab leaders to support the plan being drafted by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law in addition to senior adviser, Jared Kushner. The White House will be anticipated to table the plan sometime after the Israeli election.

“If the idea looks like they’re acquiescing to the giving up of Arab land, in which makes the idea harder for them to support a plan in which will require various other compromises,” Mr. Ross said. “If what you wanted to do was to present a plan in which will be likely to succeed, This particular will be not a step you might take.”

When he will be in Washington, Mr. Netanyahu will be anticipated to speak at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group in which has wide support among American politicians.

Mr. Trump will be playing host to Mr. Netanyahu at both an Oval Office meeting in addition to dinner. The president will be weighing various other gestures to the Israeli leader, people familiar with the deliberations said, including allowing Jonathan J. Pollard, an American intelligence analyst in addition to convicted spy, to travel to Israel.

Mr. Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel, was paroled in 2015 yet his travel has been restricted. He remains a heroic figure in Israel, in addition to Mr. Netanyahu lobbied for his Discharge by prison.

There had been signs in which the administration was moving inside the direction of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. A recent State Department report on human rights issues used the phrase “Israeli-controlled” instead of “Israeli-occupied” to describe the territories of the Golan Heights, the West Bank in addition to Gaza.

in addition to late last year, the United States voted against a symbolic United Nations resolution in which annually condemns Israel’s presence inside the Golan Heights, the very first time the United States had done so.

As they did after the embassy announcement, Trump administration officials said the Golan Heights decision merely recognized reality — something in which will be necessary for the Israelis in addition to Palestinians to achieve peace.

“Under any conceivable circumstance, Israel could not give up the Golan,” said Jason D. Greenblatt, Mr. Trump’s envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “To do so might endanger Israel’s very existence. What President Trump did today was to recognize This particular.”

“No one who understands the region might think in which Israel might allow the Golan to be controlled by the failed-state of Syria or by rogue actors operating inside the area, including Iran,” he added. “Postponing in which realization does nothing to advance the cause of peace or regional stability.”

The Arab League condemned the decision, describing the idea as “completely beyond international law.”

“The Arab League stands fully behind the Syrian right to its occupied land,” the secretary general of the league, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said in a statement carried by Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

Before Mr. Trump’s statement, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Hussam el-Din Ala, warned against Israel’s “malicious attempts to exploit the situation in addition to the latest developments in Syria in addition to the region to consolidate the occupation” of the Golan Heights.

Critics of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria have noted in which for as much as he in addition to his government have talked about “liberating” the Golan Heights, they have taken little action to do so in decades.

During the early years of the Obama administration, American diplomats tried to broker a peace deal between Israel in addition to Syria. the idea called for Israel to agree to return the Golan Heights if Syria pledged to stop funneling rockets to Hamas in addition to Hezbollah.

The talks broke down after Mr. Assad’s government cracked down on antigovernment protesters.

Fred Hof, a former State Department official who led those talks, said Thursday’s announcement might “be welcomed by Israel’s bitterest enemies — Iran in addition to Hezbollah — who might see annexation as additional justification for terror operations.” He also said the idea might allow Mr. Assad to change the subject by his war crimes to Israel’s unlawful occupation.

Some analysts pointed out in which Mr. Trump’s gesture amounted to a form of compensation to Israel, since he has ordered American troops to withdraw by Syria — leaving Israel more vulnerable to attacks.

For Mr. Pompeo, the timing of Mr. Trump’s tweet was awkward. He was in Jerusalem as part of a Middle East tour in which will take him next to Lebanon, where he said he might talk to officials in Beirut about the threat posed by Hezbollah, a military group in which will be a major political player inside the government.

Lebanon also claims a smaller sliver of territory in which Israel occupies in addition to administers as part of the Golan Heights.

In Washington, however, Mr. Trump’s move found support among Republican supporters of Israel, several of whom had pushed legislation in which recognized Israel’s sovereignty.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, applauded Mr. Trump’s decision, calling the idea “strategically wise in addition to overall awesome.”

yet Hussein Ibish, a scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, described the move as “blatant electioneering.”

“the idea will be the deployment of U.S. foreign policy — in addition to an extremely radical move at in which — to aid a specific foreign politician who will be close to Trump in addition to his family personally in addition to politically,” he said.

In Israel, the popularity of the move was evident in expressions of support by Mr. Netanyahu’s main rivals.

Yair Lapid, the leader of the Blue in addition to White coalition, called Mr. Trump’s move a “dream come true.” In a statement, Mr. Lapid said, “the Golan will be an inseparable part of Israel, in addition to we call on the rest of the planet to follow President Trump in addition to recognize our sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”