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Jerusalem,  (AFP) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday welcomed a US decision to vote for the first time against an annual UN resolution condemning Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights.

“I would like to thank President (Donald) Trump and Ambassador (Nikki) Haley on this important and just vote that is completely in keeping with my policy,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

“Israel will always remain on the Golan Heights, and the Golan Heights will always remain in our hands.”

The United States voted against the United Nations resolution on Friday, dropping its practice of abstaining.

The non-binding text was adopted in a General Assembly committee by a vote of 151 to 2, with the US and Israel the only two countries opposing the measure.

Fourteen countries abstained.

Haley called the resolution “useless” and “plainly biased against Israel”, citing concerns about Iran’s military role in Syria to oppose the measure.

The vote continues US practice under Trump of adopting firmly pro-Israel positions.

In September, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said he expects the Golan Heights to remain under Israeli control “forever”.

Israel seized much of the Golan Heights from Syria in a 1967 war and later annexed it in moves never recognized by the international community.

The resolution declares that the Israeli decision to occupy and annex the Golan was “null and void”, and calls on Israel to rescind its moves.

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