04:47 GMT02 December 2020
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    Earlier this year, Israel had to suspend its plans to extend its sovereignty over parts of the West Bank as part of the US-mediated accord that stipulates the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has visited the Golan Heights, making this the first time a US Secretary of State has been to the area.

    He stated that the Golan Heights "is a part of Israel and a central part of Israel," noting that Trump recognised "the basic fact" that previous presidents had refused to do.

    "I remember too not long after I was a cadet, I was an officer in the United States Army … It was all the rage in the salons in Europe and in the elite institutions in America to say that this should be returned to Syria. Imagine, imagine with [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in control of this place, the risk, the harm to the West and to Israel and to the people of Israel," he continued.

    Pompeo explained that he "very much wanted to come here on this trip to tell the world that we have it right" to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

    Earlier in the day, Pompeo also visited the West Bank Jewish settlements.

    A video of Pompeo getting into a car after visiting a Jewish regional council in the West Bank was shared online.

    As part of the trip, the US Secretary of State visited a vineyard where a wine named in his honour has been produced. 

    ​​Pompeo arrived in Israel on Wednesday for a three-day visit. Apart from meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo is scheduled to have talks with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and also visit the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The Trump administration has recognised Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. The territory of the Golan Heights, situated on the Syrian-Israeli border, came under Israeli control during the 1967 Six-Day War and was subsequently declared Israeli territory in 1981 under the Golan Heights Law.

    Israeli soldiers work on tanks in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria, not far from Lebanon border, Tuesday, July 28, 2020.
    © AP Photo / Ariel Schalit
    Israeli soldiers work on tanks in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria, not far from Lebanon border, Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

    Israel planned to extend sovereignty over another 30 percent of the West Bank in line with the US Middle East plan, and the process was originally scheduled to begin on 1 July. However, Tel Aviv suspended its plans after Washington had asked it to do so as part of a deal to normalise relations with the United Arab Emirates.  

    Tags:
    Golan Heights, West Bank, Middle East, US, Mike Pompeo, Israel
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