Trump's Golan Heights Tweet May Further Complicate Situation, Escalate Tensions, Experts Say

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday on Twitter that it is time for the United States to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, which it seized from Syria in 1967.

Trump's unexpected announcement, which came on the heels of controversies over U.S. planned withdrawal from Syria, may further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the region, U.S. experts said.

In a surprise tweet, Trump said that "after 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!"

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has asserted that the Israeli presence in the Golan is "thwarting" Iran's ambitions of expansion, tweeted that "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."

U.S. Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt also tweeted that Trump's move is "another bold, courageous, and historic decision" and the U.S. president "understands Israel and its security needs."

Israel seized the Golan Heights in the third Middle East war in 1967 and annexed it in the 1980s, but the international community never recognized the move.

Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, told Xinhua that Trump is "one of the few people who's pretty outwardly pro-Israel," and "when it comes to Israel, Trump wants to come up with a solution there."

"And remember, he's the first person after five presidents who said we were going to move the embassy (to Jerusalem), who actually moved the embassy. For him, this is a long term project," he said.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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