President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Monday recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, reversing more than a half-century of US policy.
Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Trump made formal a move he announced in a tweet last week. The president said it was time for the US to take the step after 52 years of Israeli control of the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Netanyahu had pressed for such recognition for months. Trump's action gives him a political boost weeks before what's expected to be a close Israeli election.
Israel occupied the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war but its sovereignty over the territory is not recognized by the international community.
"Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel _ very violent attacks,'' Trump said.
"This should have been done numerous presidents ago,'' Trump said.
Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday for what was to have been a three-day visit.
* This story was edited by Ahram Online.