Trump’s support of Israel’s claim on the Golan Heights represents is a logical step in the US’s efforts to ensure the existence of the State of Israel.
The land in contention is 500 square miles wedged between northeast Israel and southwest Syria. It was occupied in 1967 after the Six Day War. Syria has always insisted that it owns the land and many attempts have failed miserably to exchange the land for a peace treaty.
The Golan Heights is strategically important. One can see for miles into both Israel and Syria. In 1981 Israel’s Knesset passed a law that annexed the area.
The Golan Heights is embroiled in of a much larger “land for peace” debate that has been the basis of negotiations between Israel, Syria, Egypt and Palestine for years. The only successful treaty in this regard was signed in 1979 between Israel and Egypt in which the Sinai Peninsula was vacated by Israeli forces in return for a peace treaty.
The relevance of Trump’s support of Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights is that no other nation, including the US has aligned with Israel to this point. And more importantly it could be the end of all future negotiations that involve trading land for peace. This could have a huge impact on efforts by the Trump administration to orchestrate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
The response from the Arab world has been relatively muted. Of note Turkey’s President Erdogan has said that Trump’s decision to support Israel relating to the Golan Heights “has brought the region to a new crisis.” There was little comment from others nearby as domestic issues have been receiving more attention over regional issues. For instance Syrians are more concerned with their civil war than continued occupation of the Golan Heights by its enemy.
What is of great importance is the impact of Trump’s declaration of support on the re-election of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. Israeli Elections are scheduled next month and Netanyahu will receive a great boost from many Israelis for gaining such a great accommodation from America.
Trump’s support of Israel’s claim on the Golan Heights represents a logical effort to ensure the future existence of the State of Israel. It is a simple change of policy with potentially huge consequences.
Every day is important to Israel. And every effort to protect Israelis is the primary concern of Israeli leadership. With mortal enemies on all sides and even in Israel itself, Israel must not give up any strategic advantages. The Golan Heights gives Israel many military benefits.
At the same time Israel is striving to make peace with the same group of countries that call for its downfall. The most important of these adversaries is the Palestinians. They reside in Israel and there will never be peace until satisfactory accommodations are made for sovereignty, land, religion and security.
The risks from Syria are also significant. For one thing the country is involved in a civil war. But more important is the fact that Iran and Russia are supporting the Assad regime in its fight with the remnants of ISIS and Syrian rebels.
It’s only a matter of time before Syrian interests are redirected towards Israel. In the past Syria’s military power was not something that caused Israelis too much concern. But Iran and Russian military assistance could change the dynamics of the situation.
What are the consequences of Trump’s growing support of Israel? Arabs consider every move Israel makes to secure its borders an insult, and a violation of international law. Arab countries, especially those aligned with Iran, have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.
To assume that peaceful negotiations with Shia Arabs is a possibility is farcical. So Israel’s efforts to shore up the area around the Golan Heights are not really jeopardizing any on-going peace negotiations.
Some think that this new US policy regarding the occupation of the Golan Heights will impact the efforts of Jared Kushner to secure peace in the Middle East. It’s not likely. Kushner is as close to orchestrating a peace deal between Israel and Palestine as the scores of other diplomats who failed miserably over the years.
The only way that Israel is going to have peace is by maintaining a strong position in all faux negotiations with the Palestinians, and ignoring the uninformed objections emanating from the international community of nations. The US must continue to stand by its most important ally.