Trump Recognizes Israeli Sovereignty over Golan Heights Via Executive Tweet

Because of course he did.

So, this happened:

As President, Trump is Chief Diplomat and absolutely entitled to do this. Harry Truman, of course, recognized Israel’s independence almost instantaneously. But, goodness, this is a bad idea.

Israel’s annexation of foreign territories pursuant to the Six Days War has been controversial since it happened. The UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 242, declaring the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security” and demanded the “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” and the “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” way back on 22 November 1967. Numerous resolutions have passed since then, notably Resolution 497, decrying Israel’s illegal application of its domestic law to the occupied territory.

It’s simply bizarre to flout the longstanding consensus of the international community here in exchange for, as best I can determine, bupkis.

UPDATE: Daniel Larison adds,

Israel has no legitimate claim to this territory, and in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over land that it seized during a war the U.S. is sending a potentially very dangerous message to governments all around the world. Perhaps most dangerous of all is the signal that it sends to Israeli hard-liners that want to annex some or all of the West Bank. It tells them that illegal occupation will eventually be rewarded with full U.S. recognition, and it also tells them that the U.S. isn’t going to pay any attention to international law when it comes to making decisions regarding Israeli control over occupied territories.

Trump’s statement is just the latest in a string of bad decisions that are absurdly biased in favor of Israel. No U.S. interests are advanced by doing this, and it discredits any criticisms that the U.S. wants to make of any other government’s illegal occupation and annexation of territory. The double standard that the U.S. applies when it comes to violations of international law by itself and its clients could not be more obvious, and it will make it much more difficult to challenge similarly egregious violations in the future.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, United Nations
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    With all due respect to Larison, the following quote strikes me as historically insane.

    Israel has no legitimate claim to this territory, and in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over land that it seized during a war the U.S. is sending a potentially very dangerous message to governments all around the world.

    War is exactly how most “major” countries established the territory they are sovereign over.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @SKI:

    War is exactly how most “major” countries established the territory they are sovereign over.

    Yes, including ours. But the United Nations charter, following on the principles of the earlier League of Nations, made that illegitimate under international law.

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  3. CSK says:

    This isn’t going to make David Duke or Trump’s pals over at Stormfront very happy.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @SKI:

    War is exactly how most “major” countries established the territory they are sovereign over.

    You are about a century out of date. You are talking about “The Right of Conquest”, which gradually eroded in international law after WWI. It’s illegitimacy is written into a bunch of treaties and international accords that the US has signed on to. Here’s something from Wikipedia:

    The completion of colonial conquest of much of the world (see the Scramble for Africa), the devastation of World War I and World War II, and the alignment of both the United States and the Soviet Union with the principle of self-determination led to the abandonment of the right of conquest in formal international law. The 1928 Kellogg–Briand Pact, the post-1945 Nuremberg Trials, the UN Charter, and the UN role in decolonization saw the progressive dismantling of this principle. Simultaneously, the UN Charter’s guarantee of the “territorial integrity” of member states effectively froze out claims against prior conquests from this process.

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  5. Blue Galangal says:

    It tells them that illegal occupation will eventually be rewarded with full U.S. recognition

    For now. I cannot imagine any serious politician is banking on any of these “policies” (tweets? really?) remaining in place for more than fifteen seconds after Trump’s presidency ends.

  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Someone tell me how this serves US interests?
    How does this legitimize our role as a neutral arbitrator in world affairs?
    What are we getting in exchange for reversing 50 years of policy?

  7. Kit says:

    in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over land that it seized during a war the U.S. is sending a potentially very dangerous message to governments all around the world

    Exactly! And the message is: Stick in the fork: we’re done.

  8. R. Dave says:

    @James Joyner: True, but even if there’s no legal distinction, I do think there’s at least a moral and precedential distinction between annexing territory seized by the aggressor in a war and territory seized by the defender. Recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights sets a different precedent than recognizing, say, Russia’s sovereignty over the Crimea.

    That’s not to say I agree with Trump’s actions here…

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s simply bizarre to flout the longstanding consensus of the international community here in exchange for, as best I can determine, bupkis.

    He cements the Evangelical vote for himself as the Prophet paving the Path for Jesus’s return when Armageddon commences, whereby all good Christians are elevated to Heaven and welcomed by a choir of Angels, as foretold in the Gospel of Jerry (Falwell).

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  10. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’m sure the Ukraine is feeling super relaxed right now.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    But the United Nations charter…made that illegitimate under international law.

    How dare you question anything that the leaders of Israel do or might want to do…you anti-Semitic bigot…

  12. Kathy says:

    @SKI:

    War is exactly how most “major” countries established the territory they are sovereign over.

    Yes, but there’s the Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as The Pact of Paris, signed a few years after WWI, which effectively outlaws war as a legitimate action (except in self defense or in defense of a third party), and abolishes the right of conquest. Later the pact was incorporated in the UN charter. I think the charter also gives the UN the authority to approve a war (see Korea and the Gulf War).

    The US isn’t just a signatory to the pact and the UN, but the co-originator of both. the “Kellogg” referenced here was the US Secretary of State.

    For a lengthy historical and legal treatment of this subject, there’s a book called “The Internationalists” by Hathaway and Shapiro.

    Back on main topic, there may be a good reason to disregard the pact and the UN, and recognize an annexation, but for the life of me I can’t think of what that might be.

    For one thing, this tells Russia to hold on to the Crimea, or to hurry up while Dennison is in office and swallow Ukraine whole. For another , it leaves both Israel and the US without a major bargaining chip with Syria. Not to mention it might give China ideas concerning Taiwan, or Japan concerning the Sakhalin Islands (not bloody likely, but who knows what happens if Japan ever elects a right wing populist).

  13. Mister Bluster says:

    Pud is setting the stage to invade Venezuela and grab it’s oil industry.
    Who’s going to stop him?

  14. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy:

    For one thing, this tells Russia to hold on to the Crimea, or to hurry up while Dennison is in office and swallow Ukraine whole.

    The whole thing was pretty mysterious to me until you pointed this out. It sort of doesn’t matter any more whether Putin “has something on” Trump. How could Trump be more favorable?

  15. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I don’t know for a fact El Cheeto is doing this as a favor to his master, but he’s been very good to Putin even taking the ongoing sanctions into account. The INF withdrawal favors Russia much more, for example.

  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: You know, I wonder what Bolton thinks of this. Maybe this is announced over Twitter because otherwise Bolton would block it? But I don’t really know, maybe he’s ok with it?

  17. CSK says:

    Just curious: Why am I still in moderation?

  18. steve says:

    Conservatives got their tax cuts and Trump says mean stuff about liberals and brown people. This part of the price we all pay for conservatives having their dreams come true.

    Steve

  19. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Maybe it was announced on Twitter because Bolton blocked it?

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    I cannot imagine any serious politician is banking on any of these “policies” (tweets? really?) remaining in place for more than fifteen seconds after Trump’s presidency ends.

    Kind of depends on who takes his place. The race between demographics and Billionaire Boys Club money isn’t over yet.

  21. Just nutha... says:

    @Mister Bluster: We don’t need to grab Venezuela’s oil. We got Iraq’s oil when we ousted Saddam. :-/

  22. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: To quote a very notorious remark of Stalin:”How many divisions does he have?”

    We may like to pat ourselves on the back about the UN and the IJC and how wonderful it is we have a “common authority” created out of good will and voting….but when push comes to shove, it really does boil down to whether said authority has the beef to back its decisions up against those who don’t like it. The US and Israel and other large countries like China and Russia already sneer at and ignore other UN decisions that they don’t want to pay any attention to, so why should this “territory obtained by conquest isn’t legit” decision be any more adhered to?

    I suspect that like many other highfalutin proclamations of the UN, this will end up as yet another nice-sounding rule which will be adhered to by those of little power and ignored by those with great military power.