Recognize the Golan

This recognition, which really should have come nearly 40 years ago, is supported by a consensus of nearly the entire political spectrum in Israel.

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March 24, 2019 18:20
3 minute read.
Recognize the Golan

A MAN stands at Mount Bental, an observation post on the Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, on January 21.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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‘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,” President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday evening, just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House.

Last week, Netanyahu went to the Golan with US Senator Lindsey Graham – who, despite an acrimonious Republican primary, has since become a Trump ally and trusted adviser on international relations – and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a key player in American policy towards Israel.

Graham said that he and Senator Ted Cruz would work towards US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Graham said that, “what is best for America and Americans is a safe, secure and prosperous Israel,” and that he and Cruz will “start an effort to recognize the Golan Heights as part of the State of Israel now and forever, because to give this territory up would be a strategic nightmare for the State of Israel.”

And anyway, Graham wondered, “who would you give it up to?”

Now, Trump has been brought on board to the idea – and it is about time. Hopefully, his tweet will be turned into actual American policy.

After the international community spent over five decades being in denial, Trump is changing the equation and recognizing what has long been clear to all: Israel is not giving up the Golan Heights, which is vital to our security.

There have been some murmurs that this is not the right time to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, because it is so close to our upcoming election.

While this is a valid concern, and Netanyahu is likely to get a boost from the decision, it is far overshadowed by how overdue and undeniable such a move is.

In recent years, international recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights has gained traction politically, with politicians on the Right and Center talking about it in meetings with foreign dignitaries, as well as in addresses in the Knesset and other public forums.


This recognition, which really should have come nearly 40 years ago, is supported by a consensus of nearly the entire political spectrum in Israel.

“The nation is with the Golan,” in the words of the popular 1990s bumper sticker opposing conceding the region in peace talks with Syria.

Israel officially annexed the Golan Heights on December 14, 1981, after almost a million Israelis signed a petition demanding it.
The law is known to have set a record, passing all three Knesset votes in one day. The UN Security Council, however, declared that it was not valid under international law, and the law sparked a crisis between Israel and the US under president Ronald Reagan.
In the subsequent decades, several prime ministers, including Netanyahu, have taken part in negotiations to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria.

However, we now know, after years of civil war in Syria, what a massive mistake that would have been.

If we had given up the Golan Heights, we would have Iran, our greatest and most powerful enemy, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, threatening us from the high ground overlooking much of Israel’s North.

The Golan Heights are absolutely necessary for Israel’s long-term national security, and recognizing it is the right thing for all of Israel’s allies, not just the US, to do.

Together with recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump has stated the obvious. That doesn’t sound like much, but when it comes to the way the world treats Israel, denial has long been the modus operandi – and bucking the diplomatic paradigm is a brave move.

Israel is not going to give up on the Golan or our historical, unified capital of Jerusalem. Thank you, President Trump, for having the courage to say so – loud and clear.

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