US President Donald Trump has said it is time to back Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War.

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Mr Trump said on Twitter.

The recognition of the disputed area would mark a major shift in US policy a week before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Washington to meet Mr Trump and address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


What is the significance of the Golan Heights?


Mr Netanyahu, who faces an election in Israel on 9 April, has been pressing for the US to recognise its claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Israel captured much of the Golan from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed it, a move not endorsed internationally.

Mr Netanyahu, who raised the possibility of US recognition in his first White House meeting with Mr Trump in February 2017, thanked Mr Trump after his tweet this afternoon.

"At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognises Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!" Mr Netanyahu tweeted.

Irish forces have been part of a UN peacekeeping mission in the Golan Heights since 2013.

There are currently around 130 Irish soldiers in the region and the next deployment, the 59 Infantry Group, is due to travel to the Golan Heights in the coming weeks.

Additional reporting Brian O'Donovan