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No, Critics Declare in Response to Trump, Now Is Time to Give Occupied Golan Heights Back to Syria

"I still remember some people telling me during the last election that Trump would be tougher on Israel than Clinton. Lol."

An Israeli soldier in the Golan Heights, 2006.

An Israeli soldier in the Golan Heights, 2006. (Photo: David Poe, Flickr)

Critics on Thursday swiftly condemned an announcement by President Donald Trump that he believes the U.S. should recognize Israel's claim over the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory Israel has illegally occupied for over half a century. 

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights," the president said on Twitter, "which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!"

The announcement was met with praise by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

If implemented as official U.S. policy, Trump's plan could have long lasting effects on the Middle East. 

The territory was captured by Israel from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967 and officially annexed by Israel in 1981. While the annexation is effectively recognized as illegal under international law, Israel has never seriously entertained giving the territory back to Syria. 

The right thing to do, said women led peace group CODEPINK, would be for Israel to give the land back to Syria.

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"This is foolish, counter-productive and contrary to decades-old [international] law barring the acquisition of territory through force," said Jamil Dakwar, the director of the ACLU Human Rights Program.

The announcement was flatly rejected by the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Trump's decision was met with wry cynicism from The Intercept's Mehdi Hasan. 

"I still remember some people telling me during the last election that Trump would be tougher on Israel than Clinton," Hasan tweeted. "Lol."

The ramifications of the decision may reach beyond the Middle East, as international affairs writer Derek Davidson observed. 

"I'm guessing it's not a big concern of Trump's but if the US is going to recognize Israel's annexation of the Golan then it really has no basis on which to continue rejecting Russia's annexation of Crimea," Davidson said. "Just one of the many side effects of this decision."

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