By Newsweek |

Trump’s ‘Great Ally’ Saudi Arabia Condemns His Golan Heights Executive Order

Saudi Arabia expressed its “firm rejection and condemnation” of President Donald Trump’s executive order recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights.

The kingdom’s Council of Ministers, which is chaired by King Salman, affirmed on Tuesday that it recognizes the Golan Heights as occupied Syrian Arab land, pointing to numerous international resolutions, the Saudi Gazette reported. "Saudi Arabia expresses its firm rejection and condemnation of the U.S. administration's declaration that it recognizes Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights," the kingdom said in an official statement.

GettyImages-1138217403 President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu show members of the media the proclamation Trump signed recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in Washington, D.C., on March 25. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Trump officially recognized Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights on Monday, reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy. The disputed territory was captured by Israeli forces from Syria in 1967 and later annexed. Multiple resolutions by the United Nations over the years have established the international community’s rejection of Israel’s claim to the land. The decision by Trump is seen by analysts as an attempt to bolster support in Israel for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who currently faces indictment for corruption as Israelis head to the polls next month.

Saudi Arabia’s strong condemnation of Trump’s decision stands in contrast to the unwavering support the president has given to the kingdom, despite pushback from Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Washington. In early October, journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The killing was carried out by a Saudi kill squad, which intelligence reports have strongly suggested was linked directly to the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

With Republican and Democratic lawmakers calling on Trump to condemn the crown prince over the murder, the president instead insisted that Saudi Arabia was a “great ally." He argued the U.S. needed to maintain positive relations with the kingdom, due to financial interests and to keep oil prices low. Lawmakers from both parties have also criticized the U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has led to a massive humanitarian crisis and thousands of deaths. Earlier this month, the Senate rebuked the Trump administration’s continued support for the Saudi-led coalition by voting to end the aid. Regardless, the president has pushed to maintain a positive relationship with the kingdom.

An Israeli flag appears on Mount Bental in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, on May 10, 2018. JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images

Despite Trump’s continued support, Saudi Arabia sided with other Arab nations in rebuking the president’s Golan Heights decision. "This will have negative effects on the Middle East peace process and security and stability in the region,” the kingdom said. Fellow Gulf nations, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, also expressed their regret regarding the decision on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s Arab News reported.

Syria’s government lashed out as well, saying “Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” according to the Saudi newspaper. Neighboring Lebanon also voiced its criticism, saying the decision “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”