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Gulf Arabs, Iran reject US recognition of Golan Heights as Israeli

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (R) show members of the media the proclamation Trump signed on recognising Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights after their meeting outside the West Wing of the White House 25 March 2019 in Washington, DC. [Alex Wong/Getty Images]
US President Donald Trump (L) and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (R) show members of the media the proclamation Trump signed on recognising Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights after their meeting outside the West Wing of the White House 25 March 2019 in Washington, DC. [Alex Wong/Getty Images]

US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights united Washington’s Arab allies and their regional foe Iran in condemnation on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait criticised Monday’s move to recognise Israel’s 1981 annexation and said the territory was occupied Arab land. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi said it was an impediment to peace.

Iran echoed the comments, describing Trump’s decision as unprecedented this century.

“No one could imagine that a person in America comes and gives land of a nation to another occupying country, against international laws and conventions,” President Hassan Rouhani was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Trump, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking over his shoulder during a visit to Washington, signed a proclamation on Monday officially granting US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

READ: New poll finds far-right views gaining prominence in Israel

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed it in 1981, in a move the UN Security Council declared unlawful.

“It will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region,” said a statement on Saudi state news agency SPA.

It described the declaration as a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.

Trump’s special adviser Jared Kushner visited the Gulf Arab region last month to seek support for the economic portion of a long-awaited peace proposal for the Middle East. Gulf Arab states host U.S. troops and are important for Washington’s regional defence policy.

Qatar, which has been at loggerheads with other Gulf states over its policies, joined them in rejecting Trump’s move and called on Israel to end its occupation of the Golan Heights and comply with international resolutions.

READ: UN chief clear that Golan status has not changed

Lebanon said the decision contravened international law.

“The world is witnessing a black day,” Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Twitter during a visit to Russia.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, a key Damascus ally, said the move was evidence of U.S. “disdain and disregard” for the Arab and Muslim world and of international law.

“This absolute supporter of Israel cannot be a sponsor of the peace process and here he is today dealing a deadly blow to the so-called peace process,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

Nasrallah said Trump had been emboldened by Arab “silence” after US recognition last year of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and warned that the West Bank, also captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, could be next.

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