JERUSALEM, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for recognizing the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights as part of the Jewish state.
"At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights," Netanyahu tweeted, referring to Trump's statement earlier in the day about the U.S. recognition of Israel's claim over Golan which was seized from Syria in 1967.
"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights," Trump tweeted.
The Golan has "critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" the U.S. president said.
This recognition of the disputed territory would mark a major change in U.S. foreign policy, which has never recognized Israel's claim over the annexed land.
Trump's controversial statement came days before Netanyahu's visit to Washington to meet Trump.
Netanyahu, who is on a re-election campaign trail for the tight elections scheduled for April 9, has been pressing the Trump administration to support Israel's sovereignty over the Golan.
Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognized by the international community.