In a joint press conference with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognizing the Jewish state's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The document reverses more than a half-century of US policy. Trump had announced the decision in a tweet last week.
The president said it was time for the US to take the formal step after 52 years of Israeli control of the highlands located on the Syrian border.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war known as the Six-Day War, but Israel's sovereignty over the area is still not recognized by the international community.
"Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel — very violent attacks," Trump said.
"This should have been done numerous presidents ago," the president noted.
As Trump was signing the document, the Israel military was striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, responding to a terrorist rocket that hit a house north of Tel Aviv earlier Monday, wounding seven people.
"Our prayers are with our friends in Israel as they carry out an incredible way of life in the face of great terror," the president said. "The US recognizes Israel's absolute right to defend itself. The despicable attack this morning demonstrates the significant security challenges that Israel faces every single day."
"Today I am taking historic action to promote Israel's ability to defend itself and have a powerful national security which they're entitled to have," Trump continued.
After meeting with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other US officials, Netanyahu cut short his three-day visit to Washington to deal with his country's response to the terrorist rocket attack.
"Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression," the prime minister said. "Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate it."
In a speech earlier Monday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Pence said the rocket attack "proves that Hamas is not a partner for peace."
"Hamas is a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel, and the United States will never negotiate with terrorist Hamas," he added.