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11 Apr

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

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World Politics

United States

Trump’s decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over territory it seized from Syria sets a troubling precedent, experts fear

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, told senators he didn’t have time to explain an international law doctrine justifying Israel’s annexation – perhaps because none exists.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, told senators he didn’t have time to explain an international law doctrine justifying Israel’s annexation – perhaps because none exists. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Under intense questioning about why the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights was good but the Russian seizure of Crimea was bad, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, told senators that there was an “international law doctrine” which would be explained to them later.

It turned out there was no doctrine. The state department’s clarification of Pompeo’s remarks contained no reference to one, and experts on international law said that none exists.

Donald Trump’s decision last month to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, captured from Syria in 1967, took the state department by surprise, and it has been struggling to catch up since.

Pompeo has provided several justifications for the move, from ancient Jewish roots on the plateau, to the justness of the Israeli cause in the “six-day war”, and the blunt force of “facts on the ground”.

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