jkuttab1_Michael Reynolds - PoolGetty Images_trump Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images

The Heights of Trump’s Recklessness

By recognizing Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights, US President Donald Trump has legitimized the acquisition of territory by war. That will give other countries, including China and Russia, a green light to resolve territorial disputes with their neighbors by force.

RAMALLAH – What has been the worst foreign-policy decision by US President Donald Trump’s administration? Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement was bad. Pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal sent a signal that the United States does not honor international agreements signed by previous administrations. More recently, the US government’s successful intimidation of the International Criminal Court could have dire consequences for global governance and world peace.

But Trump’s worst decision of all has not received the attention it deserves. With his sudden recognition on March 25 of Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981, Trump abandoned, in typical cavalier fashion, a principle – the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by force – that has underpinned international stability since World War II. His recognition of Israel’s annexation establishes a highly dangerous precedent for the Middle East and beyond.

After 1945, the world’s countries unanimously repudiated territorial expansion by force, to discourage states from invading and occupying their weaker neighbors. Attempts to violate this principle (such as by Iraq in Kuwait, Russia in Ukraine, and Israel in East Jerusalem and the Golan) were universally condemned.