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Irish government rejects Donald Trump recognising Golan Heights as Israeli

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised US president Donald Trump for recognising Israeli control of Golan Heights

THE Irish government says it has "no plans" to change its stance on the Golan Heights after Donald Trump formally recognised Israel as having sovereignty over the disputed territory it seized decades ago from Syria.

The US president yesterday signed a proclamation in the presence of Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who hailed the move as "historic".

Syria said Mr Trump's decision was "a blatant attack on its sovereignty", while a United Nations spokesman said the "status of Golan has not changed".

Israel captured the Golan Heights in 1967, and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognised internationally.

For decades, the US took the same stance as the UN, but last week Mr Trump announced in a tweet his overturning of decades of US policy.

In a statement yesterday, tánaiste and foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said: "Ireland regards the Golan Heights as Syrian territory under Israeli occupation. The government has no plans to alter that position.

"Annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law, including the UN charter. This is a fundamental principle of the relation of states and the rule of law in the modern world.

"Our view of the behaviour of the current Syrian government does not negate this principle.

"Israeli annexation, and recognition of it, also ignore the wishes of the inhabitants of the area."

Syria has vowed to recover the territory "through all available means".

But speaking to reporters in Washington yesterday, Mr Netanyahu said Israel "shall never give it up".

"Your proclamation comes at a time when Golan is more important than ever for our security," he said, citing threats from Iranian forces in Syria, and described it as a "two-fold act of historic justice".

In a message on Twitter last week, Mr Trump declared that the plateau was of "critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability".

However, there is little sign of other countries following the decision made by the US.

Russia, which has been providing military support to President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict – warned it "could drive a new wave of tensions in the Middle East region".

Turkey, which has been supporting the Syrian opposition, said it was "impossible" to accept the US decision.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit condemned Mr Trump's decision and said it does not change the area's status, according to a statement published by Egypt's state news agency Mena.

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