An old military vehicle on the Israeli side of the border with Syria, near the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, Israel, February 2018.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Senior candidates in Blue and White, the main rivals of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud in the upcoming election, praised US President Donald Trump’s declaration that he intends to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The enthusiastic statements came despite Trump making the announcement on twitter less than three weeks before elections.
US recognition of the Golan Heights is “a dream come true,” Blue and White co-leader Yair Lapid said. “The Golan is an inseparable part of Israel, and we call on the rest of the national of the world to follow President Trump and recognize our sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, also of Blue and White, said the announcement is “truly good news” and “another important step after moving the US embassy to our eternal capital.”
“President Trump understands that Israel’s presence…in a difficult and challenging neighborhood like ours is absolutely necessary,” he stated.
Despite these positive reactions, Blue and White released a video an hour after Trump’s announcement saying that Netanyahu has hurt the IDF's deterrence by allowing advanced submarines be sold to Egypt.
Reactions on the Right were mostly enthusiastic.
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said American recognition “will strengthen Israel’s security and its standing in the region and will be a response to Iran’s aggression from Syria and send a clear message to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad…Thank you, Trump.”
Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon stated: “The American intention to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights is an important accomplishment for the State of Israel. Our neighbors will know that reality is settled and that there is a price for their refusal to recognize Israel.”
However, some on the Right were more cautious in their enthusiasm.
The head of the New Right Party, Naftali Bennett, said on Twitter, “The land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. And Israel has no greater friend than the USA.”
But the party released a statement that “with all the joy over American recognition of the Golan Heights, it is necessary to say that the ‘Golan for Hamastan’ deal is a danger to settlements and Israel. We call on the prime minister to announce tonight that his agreement to establish a Palestinian state in his Bar-Ilan Speech is canceled.”
The Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) praised the announcement, but said that it “cannot blind us ahead of Trump’s ‘deal of the century’” between Israel and the Palestinians, expressing concern that it will include “giving up territory in our homeland and…uprooting towns and thousands of families from their homes.”
Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin praised the recognition, as well as rumors that the Trump administration may allow Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to move to Israel.
“We hope that these praiseworthy moves will not be a way to sweeten the bitter pill of the American ‘deal of the century’ to divide Jerusalem and lose our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, immediately after the elections,” Feiglin added.
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman accused Trump of “trying to save Netanyahu from his trouble returning to his throne, this time through a pointless American declaration of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. This recognition is an inseparable part of the ‘deal of the century’ Trump is plotting with reactionary Arab regimes to perpetuate Israeli and American control of the Middle East and targeted assassination of the Palestinian matter and the resistance.”
Meretz and Labor did not release statements by press time.
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