By Michael Hernandez</p> <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump will formally recognize Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights later Monday, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed.</p> <p>“Today, for the first time in 52 years, with Prime Minister Netanyahu at his side, the president of the United States will formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Pence told a cheering crowd at the annual American-Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. </p> <p>Momentum has been building on Capitol Hill for the U.S. to recognize Israel's claim to the Syrian territory, and the State Department earlier this month prompted questions about the matter when it changed its terminology for the first time on the contested territory, referring to it as "Israeli-controlled" instead of its former designation of "Israeli-occupied." </p> <p>On Sunday, Israel's acting Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz announced that Trump on Monday will sign an official document lending support to Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights in the presence of Israel’s prime minister.
Israel has long sought Washington's recognition of its claim on the territory it seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War. But past administrations have refused to grant the request.
Israel occupies roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights as a result of the 1967 conflict. It moved to formally annex the territory in 1981 — an action unanimously rejected at the time by the UN Security Council.
Security Council Resolution 497 says the "Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect".
It further demanded Israel rescind its decision.
The U.S. for the first time voted against an annual UN resolution condemning Israel's control of the Golan Heights in November. In all, 151 nations voted in support, with just Israel and the U.S. voting against.