Druze in Golan Heights Protest Trump's Call for Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty

The 300 demonstrators waved Syrian and Druze flags and carried images of Syrian President Bashar Assad

Protesters in Majdal Shams, Golan Heights, March 23, 2019.
Gil Eliahu

About 300 people protested Saturday afternoon in the Druze town of Majdal Shams in the Israeli side of the Golan Heights over U.S. President Donald Trump's call to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the territory.

The protesters were residents of the four Druze villages in the Golan, who, according to participants of the demonstration, were joined by Israeli Arabs from the Galilee and Nazareth.

Waving Syrian and Druze flags and carrying images of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the protesters declared the Golan is Syrian territory and that the U.S. president does not have the authority to decide its fate.

Protesters in Majdal Shams, Golan Heights, March 23, 2019.
Gil Eliahu

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Syrian media outlets reported similar protests on the Syrian side of the border.

Druze towns in the Golan Heights have often held demonstrations in the past identifying with Syria and the rule of Assad. In recent years, however, with the developments in the war in Syria and the expanding of the combat zone toward the border area, there have been fewer demonstrations in support of Assad.

In a tweet on his personal Twitter account on Thursday Trump wrote: "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!"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Trump on the telephone afterwards and thanked him for the declaration.

In a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Netanyahu said, "We feel that it's a Purim miracle, President Trump made history today." According to Netanyahu, "Trump recognized Israel's sovereignty in the Golan Heights at a time when Iran is trying to use it as a platform to destroy Israel."

Jason Greenblatt, Trump's special representative for international negotiations, wrote, "Another brave and historic decision by the President of the United States, who understands Israel and its security needs."