WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday that he asked U.S. President Donald Trump in their meeting to have the U.S. recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. "I can say that there was no surprise by my request," Netanyahu said.
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The U.S. and the international community don't recognize the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, announced in 1981. The U.S. treats the area as occupied Syrian territory, and has attempted several times to push for a peace deal between Israel and Syria that would include an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan.
Netanyahu also said that he and Trump see eye to eye on Iran, and that they have discussed Iranian activity in Syria. "He voiced a commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and he is highly aware of Iranian aggression in the area in other matters," Netanyahu said. "We agreed to cooperate in order to buffet this aggression."
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Netanyahu raised the issue of American recognition of the annexation of the Golan Heights at his meeting with former President Barack Obama in November 2015. The Obama administration rejected the request and refused to further discuss the matter. A senior official at the White House said at the time that the U.S. stance, which is against the annexation, hasn't changed, and added that the Israeli request could even harm the Syrian opposition factions supported by the U.S.
"I think that it was clear the U.S. is not going to change its position about the future of the Golan. We [have] always said it has to be negotiated in line with [UN Security Council resolutions] 242 and 338. This has been and remains our position and it will not change,” he said.