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Netanyahu To Meet Trump In Washington Amid Golan Controversy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, March 11, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is in Washington weeks before elections in his country, is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump, with the disputed Golan Heights issue on the agenda.

In a sudden move, Trump announced via Twitter on March 21 that it was time the United States “fully” recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the 1,800-square-kilometer border region captured by Israel from Syria in 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel has often tried to gain diplomatic support for annexing the Golan, but the international community has withheld endorsement, with a majority of countries calling for a return to pre-1967 borders.

Netanyahu immediately expressed his gratitude to Trump in a tweet.

Trump’s support for the annexation of Golan comes a month ahead of Israeli elections and can potentially help Netanyahu against Benny Gantz, a strong opponent.

"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," wrote Netanyahu, who has claimed that Iran was using the region as a staging area for attacks targeting Israel.

In the past one year Israel has complained about the presence of Iran backed forces in Syria near its border and entered talks with Russia to for keeping those forces away from the Golan Heights.

Iran, along with Turkey and Syria have condemned Trump’s remarks.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP