Trump says he made snap decision to recognise Golan Heights as Israel's after 'quick history lesson' on Middle East
Donald Trump has claimed he made a snap decision to officially recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, after receiving a “quick history lesson” on the Middle East.
The US president last month broke with decades of US policy and international agreement that had considered the piece of territory seized from Syria in 1967 “occupied”, to instead accept Israel’s claim.
The move was seen as both a nod to his conservative Christian supporters, as well as a boost to Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing a tough reelection challenge. It sparked widespread criticism from around the world, not least from Arab nations in the region.
Speaking on Saturday in Las Vegas at the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group backed by GOP mega donor Sheldon Adelson, Mr Trump said he made the decision very quickly.
He said he did so after a discussion with his top advisors on the Middle East, including the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and his own son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
“I said, ‘Fellows, do me a favour. Give me a little history, quick. Want to go fast. I got a lot of things I’m working on: China, North Korea. Give me a quickie,” he said, according to Reuters.
He said he had then continued: “How do you like the idea of me recognising exactly what we’re discussing?”
The president claimed Mr Friedman, an arch supporter of Israel, was shocked, “like a wonderful, beautiful baby”, and asked if Mr Trump would actually do it. “I went – Bing! – it was done. We make fast decisions. And we make good decisions.”
In later 2017, Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the following year moved the US embassy there – something long requested by conservative Israelis and evangelical “End Time” Christians who believe Jesus Christ will appear on earth once Jewish people control the city.
Those moves, and the recognition of the Golan Heights, were said to be among the primary wishes of Mr Adelson, 85.
The Adelsons gave the Trump’s campaign $30m in 2016, according to the Associated Press. They followed that by contributing $100m to the Republican Party for the 2018 midterm elections.