Feb. 17, 2017
- Standing with Israel on the Golan Heights – Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz
Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump seem to be on the same page on a broad range of regional matters. According to reports of the two leaders’ meeting on Wednesday, Netanyahu asked for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The move makes sense for both sides. It would provide the Israeli government with a diplomatic win while helping the Trump administration signal to Russia and Iran that the U.S. is charting a new course in Syria.
With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the facts on the ground have changed. Had Israel ceded the Golan to Syria, Islamic State, al-Qaeda or Iran would be sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee across from the Israeli city of Tiberias. Netanyahu and other senior Israeli government officials argue that Syria is destined for partition along sectarian, ethnic and regional lines, and it might be time to acknowledge Israel’s hold on the Golan as permanent.
Recognition of Israel’s Golan claims would acknowledge that it needs these highlands to hold off a multitude of asymmetric and conventional military threats from Syria – and whatever comes after the war there. The Druze Arabs of the Golan, who number 20,000, are unlikely to respond with unrest. While they profess loyalty to Assad, the carnage inside Syria has made the stability and prosperity of Israel increasingly attractive. Mr. Schanzer is senior vice president and Mr. Dubowitz is chief executive officer at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal)
The Golan Heights Provides a Buffer Zone Against Tehran – Zvi Hauser
Netanyahu’s request that the U.S. recognize Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights is the appropriate strategic compensation for the nuclear agreement with Iran – to set a permanent buffer zone that cuts off Tehran on the outskirts of Quneitra, and not on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) shores. This is the only way to restrain Iran’s conventional aggression potential on the other side of the Golan border. The Golan makes up only 1% of what was until recently Syria. The moderate Sunni axis states won’t fight a move that means exacting a territorial price from the Shi’ite axis of evil.
Above all, reality on the ground is stronger than past fixations. There is no horizon on the Golan Heights but the Israeli one for stability. The writer was Israel’s cabinet secretary in 2009-2013. (Ha’aretz)