World countries blast US on Golan, Syria vows to liberate Israeli occupied territory

The Arab League, Russia, Iran and Turkey have strongly warned the US after President Donald Trump declared Thursday that he will recognize Syria’s Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

The strategic highlands have been under the Israeli occupation since 1967, but Trump’s abrupt declaration a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Israel brings the dispute to a boiling point.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Trump’s statement has brought the region to the edge of a new crisis.

In a speech at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, Erdogan said: “We cannot allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights.”

Iran also hit out at the decision, denouncing it as unacceptable. “This illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it belongs to Syria,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.

“The Zionist regime, as an occupying regime, has no sovereignty over any Islamic and Arab lands and its occupation (of the Golan) and acts of violation should be swiftly brought to an end,” he said.

Qassemi said the only solution to the Golan dispute is to end the Israeli occupation. He said Trump’s “personal and rash decisions reveal yet another reality of US policies that are dangerous to the entire world, and will particularly push this volatile region to successive crises.”

The Islamic Republic, he said, “will closely monitor all future developments in the region and continue its cooperation and consultations with the Syrian government and other countries to take appropriate measures.”

Syria, which declared last month that it was ready to go to another war with Israel for the Golan, condemned Trump’s pledge in a statement issued by its foreign ministry on Friday.

“The American position towards Syria’s occupied Golan Heights clearly reflects the United States’ contempt for international legitimacy and its flagrant violation of international law,” it said.

“The irresponsible remarks by Trump, the US president, one more time demonstrated the US’ blind and relentless support for the Israeli occupying regime and its hostile acts,” it added.

Trump’s announcement came ahead of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States next week.

In a tweet that caught many by surprise, Trump said the time had come for the United States to take the step, which Netanyahu warmly welcomed as a “miracle” on the Jewish holiday of Purim.

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