President Trump announced on Twitter his morning that it was time for the U.S. to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights:
In response, he was thanked by Prime Minister Netanyahu:
At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump! @realDonaldTrump
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 21, 2019
Wednesday the NY Times reported that Netanyahu was pressuring Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the issue during a meeting in Israel:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed the United States to recognize Israeli governance of most of the Golan Heights during a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday. His efforts underscored the growing possibility that the Trump administration may change the American stance on the territory…
On Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Pompeo appeared together to offer remarks to reporters following a one-on-one meeting in the prime minister’s compound in Jerusalem.
Mr. Netanyahu said Israeli intelligence officials had discovered last week that Hezbollah, the Lebanese military and political group with ties to Iran, was trying to set up a network in the Syrian-controlled portion of the Golan Heights, posing a threat to Israel.
Israel took control of the territory during the Six-Day War in 1967 and later annexed it. PM Netanyahu has been asking the Trump administration to recognize its sovereignty over the region since February 2017. But there’s also a more timely political angle here. Netanyahu is facing a tough election next month. In February, Israel’s Attorney General announced that he intends to indict Netanyahu on corruption charges. The Jerusalem Post says Trump’s willingness to recognize Israel’s control of the Golan Heights will be a significant boon to Netanyahu:
Not only is the gift extremely substantial, but for Netanyahu the timing is impeccable.
Netanyahu is scheduled to leave Sunday for a four day trip to America and will have ample opportunity to thank Trump for his largess, with not one, but two meetings with Trump scheduled. The electoral optics of those meetings — and the emphasis that will be placed on the Golan recognition — is exceptionally valuable for the Netanyahu campaign…
The Trump decision to recognize the Golan now gives Netanyahu a significant boost before the election, but will also also trigger criticism that the US president is blatantly meddling in the Israeli elections.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House twice next week. Netanyahu’s spokesman tweeted out this picture of a phone call with President Trump. He certainly looks happy:
PM Netanyahu speaks with President Trump and thanks him for his decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty on the Golan Heights. pic.twitter.com/b1J3sq8t26
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) March 21, 2019