Syria has called the move "a blatant attack on its sovereignty". Damascus earlier promised it would recover the area via all available means.
A spokesman for United Nations, meanwhile, reaffirmed on Monday that the status of the Golan Heights has not changed. Observers said the decision by Mr Trump was more symbolic in nature as Benjamin Netanyahu faces an election next month. However, media reports on Sunday suggested that the Israel Defence Forces and police were bracing themselves for possible violent protests near the Israeli-Syrian border.
Sputnik: How significant is Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights on the background of the failure of most other countries to do so?
Sputnik: Do you think that this was timed and intended to help boost Benjamin Netanyahu's stance prior to the elections?
Moshe Maoz: No doubt. Yes, I mean not only this [but] also the invitation yesterday to do it publicly and just two weeks before the election. So, I think it is very well-intended by Trump to help Netanyahu to win the election.
And yes, you can see it also in the country, in Israel that the popularity of Netanyahu, despite all his indictments and involvement in the corruption, it doesn't help him much. The majority still or a great deal of Israelis support him.
Sputnik: To what extent do you think that this will actually help Netanyahu do well in the elections? Is this going to boost his ratings?
Sputnik: Can you tell us about the significance of this piece of land, this swathe of land, what is so important about this historically to Syria and perhaps to Israel if there is such interest?
Moshe Maoz: As far as Syria is concerned, unlike what many Israelis say that Syria has controlled this area only 19 years since its independence in 1946 — [that is not true]. Because this was part of Syria even under the Ottoman Empire and since World War I. So it is part of Syria. Now, number two: Israel has stationed Israeli troops about 60 kilometres from Damascus, the capital of Syria, which is a threat to Syria. So, Syria would not tolerate. Also, another thing is that there is a precedent already: Israel returned the entire Sinai to Egypt for peace.
Now from the Israeli point of view, it is a beautiful area for sightseeing and what have you but also strategically because it defends the north of Israel. As you know from '48 on there has been many bombings and strikes and attacks from the Golan Heights on Israel.
So, it has been seen as a very, very major strategic asset. But if there is peace and there is demilitarisation of this region and incidentally Israel almost got into a deal with the Syrians in Shepherdstown and in Washington in 1999 and in 2000. Demilitarisation and peace is also important but also the new area of missiles, the land is less important than it used to be.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Moshe Maoz and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.