GOLAN HEIGHTS — In a show of support for Israel's sovereignty, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday visited Mount Bental in the Golan Heights, the territory that Israel has controlled since seizing it from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967. He is the first U.S. secretary of state to visit the territory.
"This is a part of Israel, a central part of Israel," he said, during joint statements with Israeli foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
The Trump administration in 2019 recognized Israeli sovereignty over the territory, though much of the world condemns Israel's claim as an illegal occupation. Israel and the United States maintain that Israeli sovereignty over Golan is justified because it was taken in a defensive war and that it is a crucial part of Israel's national security.
Pompeo spent the day touring the country, where he unveiled several post-election initiatives to bolster U.S.-Israeli ties. Stopping at the settlement of Psagot, he also became the first secretary of state to visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
"We will honor your right to defend your own people," he said to Ashkenazi during his remarks at Mount Bental.