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Trump move on Golan Heights divides US Israel lobby

March 22, 2019 at 7:30 pm

US President Donald Trump (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [IsraeliPM/Twitter]

The repercussions of US President Donald Trump’s unofficial recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights has reverberated across the international community, and especially among influential Jewish groups in the US, Anadolu reports.

Powerful pro-Zionist organizations in the US – such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) – appear deeply divided over Trump’s controversial move.

While the CFR staunchly opposes the decision, AIPAC and the ZOA both hailed the move, for which they thanked the US president.

CFR President Richard Haass, for his part, warned that no Arab government would make peace with Israel after such a decision.

READ: Syria vows to recover Golan as Trump policy shift draws criticism 

Haass tweeted: “Strongly disagree [with] Donald Trump; now NOT the time 4 US to recognise Israel sovereignty over Golan Hts. No Arab govt would make peace w Israel & would violate UNSCR 242 which rules out acquiring territory by war and serves Israel as it says all states have right 2 live in peace.”

AIPAC, for its part, which has been under fire from American liberals due to its recent attacks on Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, welcomed the move.

“Given current political and security circumstances in Syria, we have said it was inconceivable to imagine Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights,” AIPAC tweeted.

“Donald Trump’s statement marks a dramatic change in American policy, and we appreciate his leadership on this issue,” it added.

READ: Israel’s Netanyahu could face new corruption charge in submarine affair 

The ZOA, meanwhile, released a statement on its website expressing its “great appreciation” for Trump’s Golan remarks.

“We look forward to the Trump administration’s formal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” the statement read.

Israel has long pushed Washington to recognise its claim to the territory, which it seized from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Israel occupies roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights region as a direct result of the 1967 conflict.

It “annexed” the territory in 1981 in a move unanimously rejected at the time by the UN Security Council.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution opposing Israel’s continued occupation of the Golan Heights.

On the same day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Israel had “no right” to the disputed territory.

“Under UN resolutions, Israel cannot lay claim even on a small bit of the Golan Heights,” Erdogan said at an election rally in Turkey’s central province of Konya.

READ: Turkish FM slams US decision on Golan Heights

Note: This page was updated at 15.54 UTC on 24 March 2019 to correct the name of Richard Haass (President of the Council on Foreign Relations). Previously, we incorrectly used “Hass” and “Haas”.