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Trump’s Golan move unites Gulf States and Iran in condemnation

Brendan Smialowski, AFP | US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a Golan Heights proclamation at the White House on March 25, 2019.

US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights has united Washington's Gulf Arab allies and regional foe Iran in condemnation.

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Trump broke with decades of US policy on Monday, recognising Israeli sovereignty over the strategic territory it seized from Syria in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait all criticised Washington’s decision, describing the territory as occupied Arab land.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, two close allies of the US, said the move was an impediment to peace and security in the region.

For once, the Gulf States were in agreement with arch-foe Iran, which described Trump's decision as a throwback to a bygone era of colonial land grabs.

"In a point of time when colonialism ruled, some colonialist powers did such things and bestowed parts of one country to another, but this is unprecedented in the present century," said Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, according to the official government website.

"Nobody could have believed that a man would come in America and unilaterally and against all international laws and regulations give away a land belonging to one country to an aggressor," the Iranian leader added.

US first to recognise Golan as Israeli

Trump, with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking over his shoulder during a visit to Washington, signed a proclamation on Monday officially granting US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed it in 1981, in a move the UN Security Council said was unlawful.

The US is the first country to recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan, which the rest of the international community regards as Israeli-occupied.

Trump’s recognition “will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region", said a statement on Saudi state news agency SPA.

The Saudi statement described the declaration as a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.

‘Golan is Syrian’

Trump's special adviser Jared Kushner visited the Gulf Arab region last month to seek support on the economic portion of a long-awaited peace proposal for the Middle East. Gulf Arab states host US troops and are important for Washington's regional defence policy.

Qatar, which has been at loggerheads with other Gulf states over its policies, joined them in rejecting Trump's move and called on Israel to end its occupation of the Golan Heights and comply with international resolutions.

Lebanon said the decision contravened international law.

"The world is witnessing a black day," Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Twitter during a visit to Russia.

Syria's state news agency SANA said thousands of Syrians had gathered in the streets of different cities in protest at the US move.

SANA posted photographs of a march in the southern city of Sweida on Tuesday morning, in which men and women carried Syrian and Palestinian flags and banners reading "Golan is Syrian."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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