BLOG 426 March 24, 2019
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
Perhaps, you were as surprised as the rest of the world by the sudden announcement from President Donald Trump recognizing Israel’s possession of the Golan Heights as now a legitimate part of Israel. The Golan Heights is a basaltic plateau bordered by the Yarmouk River in the south, the Sea of Galilee and Hula Valley in the west, the Anti-Lebanon with Mount Hermon in the north and Wadi Raqqad in the east. The Golan Heights was captured from Syria and occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War. This stretch of territory was effectively annexed to Israel in 1981. This region includes the western two-thirds of the geological Golan Heights, as well as the Israeli-occupied part of Mount Hermon.
Construction of Israeli settlements began in the territory held by Israel, which was under military administration until Israel passed the Golan Heights Law extending Israeli law and administration throughout the territory in 1981. This move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UNSC Resolution 497, which stated that “the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect”, and UNSC Resolution 242, which emphasizes “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”.
Israel maintains it has a right to retain the Golan, also citing the text of UN Resolution 242, which calls for “safe and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.
So, what’s going on here?
Regardless of UN resolutions or anything else, Israel will never give this territory back. Several times, I rode a Jeep up from the Galilee up the steep slopes to the top of the Heights. One look will tell you why Israel will keep this land. For years Syrian and Jordanian troops sat up there on the top and shot Israeli farmers working down their in the valley around the Galilee. The entire Galilee area is vulnerable to canons and whatever weapons can fire from the Golan Heights. No country could allow this threat and jeopardy to exist.
If you’re a supporter of Israel, you applaud this move. If you’re not, you are appalled. But why should the United States alone suddenly announce an acceptance of this situation when no other country in the world will recognize the same? Why at this moment?
Speculation is simple. Trump likes Netanyahu and the Prime Minister needs a boast in the Polls before the April 9 elections. President Trump’s action can only help the Prime Minister.
Politics as usual.
Sorry, I’ll be out of the country next week. My following report will be in April.