Oct. 3, 2018
In the Name of Peace, It Is Time to Accept Israel’s Possession of the Golan Heights – Rafael Bardaji and Richard Kemp (Telegraph-UK)
Syrian forces launched an invasion of northern Israel across the Golan Heights in June 1948. After the 1949 armistice, there were years of sporadic attacks against Israel from the Golan Heights, including cross-border raids by Fatah and shelling of civilian communities by the Syrian Army. Syria intensified its artillery fire against Israel on the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel then seized a major area of the Golan Heights to protect its citizens and its territory.
It is a commonly held view that Israel’s possession of the Golan Heights is illegal under international law. But this position is not tenable. It is illegal to hold onto territory acquired through wars of aggression, but Israel gained the Golan Heights during its defense against aggression launched from the Golan. Under the UN Charter, defensive war is not illegal and throughout history countries have retained territory gained in their own defense.
Returning the Golan Heights to Syria would not only endanger Israel, but it would also send the message that an aggressor has nothing to lose as there is no territorial price to pay for its violent actions.
Western support for Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights would equally extract a price from Assad – albeit a comparatively small one – for the monstrous war crimes he has committed, in which millions have suffered and perhaps half a million died. The events of the last seven years have proven beyond all doubt that he is a murderous despot who must not be given any opportunity for further aggression.
Syria is now and will remain for the foreseeable future under the domination of Iran. We know the Iranian ayatollahs are intent on aggression against the Jewish state.
It is time for the international community to recognize Israel’s possession of the Golan Heights as legitimate and necessary. Such a move would also advance peace and regional stability.
Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan. Rafael Bardaji was National Security Adviser to the President of Spain.