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Trump explains why he recognized Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

In a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference Saturday afternoon, President Trump described how he took the decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

What he's saying: Trump said he was talking on the phone with the U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman about a different topic while his senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt were also in the room. At that time Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Israel, but Trump didn't mention him as being part of this specific discussion.

Trump said he heard about the Golan Heights issue for a long time but during the phone call with Friedman he asked to get a "quickie" about the history of the area and its importance. Trump said Friedman and others in the room explained the Golan was important for Israel because it was a high ground essential for security.

  • Trump said he then asked Friedman who was on the line and the others who were in the room: "How do you like the idea of me recognizing exactly what we are discussing?"
  • Trump said Friedman was surprised and he said: "You would actually do that, sir?". Trump said he told Friedman: "Yes I think I am doing it right now — lets write something up".

The bottom line: The next thing that happened, Trump said, was his tweet stressing it was time for the U.S. to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. "We make fast decisions ... and I went 'bing' and it was done... it was a big story for two days — no repercussions."