"After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability." Trump tweeted.
The announcement hands Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a significant foreign policy victory, less than three weeks before the Israelis lead to the polls to decide whether he should remain in power. The move comes just days before Netanyahu is set to join Trump by the White House and follows weeks when Netanyahu has renewed his push for the United States to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the six-day war of 1967 and formally annexed territory in 1981. this annexation has not been recognized by international society which has considered the Golan Heights as occupied territory and Israeli settlements there as illegal under international law.
Trump has high approval ratings in Israel and his consideration of Netanyahu so close to the election, coupled with providing long-standing recognition could affect the outcome of the Israeli election.
Netanyahu quickly went to Twitter to thank Trump, tweeting: "At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you, President Trump! @RealDonaldTrump. "
It was not clear whether the White House would release further information or details of the move to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel beyond Trump's tweet.
Former US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who served President Barack Obama said the move "raises great concern" and said it is difficult not to see this as an attempt to fight Netanyahu's chances of being the rest of the prime minister .
"It's hard not to put two and two together" Panetta said on CNN. "The president has highlighted his support for Netanyahu."