During a White House meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, President Trump signed a formal proclamation that the United States recognizes sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In so doing, the president acknowledged a long-standing fact of life, bolstered a vital American ally, promoted stability in a deeply unstable neighborhood, and upheld the often-ignored but crucial distinction between acquiring territory through aggression and acquiring through lawful self-defense. Good outcomes all, extending the Trump administration's already exemplary record when it comes to the Middle East.
Trump's policy shift was not well with everyone, of course. Those angrily denouncing it included the dictators and terror-sponsors who rule Iran, Turkey, Russia, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority. Tellingly, though, there was barely any protest from most Arab governments, which in recent years have come to value Israel as a whole against Iran and its proxies. As a CNN headline, it puts it, "Trump's Golan Heights announcement with a shrug in the Arab world."
The president's signature changes nothing on the ground. Israel has held the western two-thirds of the Golan Heights ̵
But Israel declined to be annihilated or exploded. It repelled its invaders and seized the Golan Heights, from which Syria had been shelling Jewish farms and towns for more than 20 years. In the aftermath of the war, Israel offered to return the territory in exchange for peace. Damascus refused to negotiate. It tried to recapture the Golan Heights in a massive armored invasion in 1973. Israel repelled that threat too.