Israel captured the strategic Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed the region in 1981, a move that is unrecognized by the international community. The area borders Jordan and Syria, a declared enemy of Israel. From atop the Golan Heights one can look down into central and northern Israel, making the area a significant military perch that, in the hands of her enemies, would be catastrophic for Israel.
Israel against the move?
American senators are now advancing a bill to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, but an Israeli newspaper reported that some officials in the Israeli defense establishment are quietly discouraging such a bold move.
According to a report in Israel Hayom (Israel Today), unnamed defense officials fear that drawing attention to the issue could jeopardize the current status quo and fragile peace there.
The story remains unconfirmed and the Prime Minister’s office denied it.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken on many occasions with U.S. President Donald Trump, including recently, about the need to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office. “After investigating the matter, no representative of the Israeli defense establishment has conveyed the [opposite] message or anything in that vein.”
The bill, which has received bipartisan support, was proposed by Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton.
“Israel’s northern border has become increasingly dangerous in recent weeks with the discovery of Hezbollah’s terror tunnels and Bashar Al-Assad’s continued efforts to consolidate control of Syria with the assistance of Iranian shock troops,” the senators said in a statement. “Responding to the threat posed by Iran and its proxies requires ensuring that Israel can defend its territory and its citizens from attacks. To support Israel’s right to self-defense, Washington should take the long overdue step of affirming Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
Israel is going Nowhere
The U.S. bill recognizes that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of a peace agreement between Israel and Syria will be an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.”
The difference between the Israeli Golan Heights and the Syrian side is shocking. The Israeli side is lush and developed while the Syrian side is a wasteland. Photo Credit: Mark Neyman Israel GPO
Some 50,000 Israelis live on the Golan Heights and it has been developed into one of the most beautiful areas in Israel. One just need look over the border to see the difference between the Israeli Golan and the Syrian Golan. The Israel side is green and developed, while the Syrian side is a brown wasteland.
In January, Netanyahu urged U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton to recognize the region while other Israeli political leaders have actively lobbied U.S. President Donald Trump on the issue.