Thursday, December 20, 2018

GOP senators unveil measure recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights - Ariel Kahana

by Ariel Kahana

Measure says area is "critical" to Israel's national security

The Golan Heights
Photo: Gil Eliyahu / JINI 

For the first time since over five decades, the Senate is poised to consider a resolution calling on the U.S. government to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. The draft resolution was introduced by pro-Israel Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton on Tuesday.

Israel captured parts of the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War. The area, which was officially annexed by Israel, includes the strategically important Mount Hermon.

The draft resolution notes that "until 1967, Syria controlled the Golan Heights and used the topographical advantage it provided to attack Israeli troops and civilians." It also stressed that the area must continue to stay under Israeli control, as it has proved its vital necessity to the Jewish state. "In October 1973, the Golan Heights provided Israel with critical strategic depth to repel a surprise attack by Syrian forces," it notes, referring to the Yom Kippur War.

It further stresses that the "Golan Heights is critical to Israel's national security" and that "it is in the United States' national security interest to ensure Israel's security."

Cruz and Cotton will officially table the motion in 2019. The two issued the following statement on Monday: "Israel's northern border is threatened by Iranian forces and their proxies in Lebanon and Syria, including Hezbollah's 150,000 rockets, armed drones, newly discovered terror tunnels and more. Meanwhile, with the [Iranian] ayatollahs' help, [Syrian President] Bashar Assad's regime is on the verge of securing victory in Syria's civil war. He may soon turn his attention back to threatening the Jewish state." Cruz and Cotton added: "Israel gained possession over the Golan Heights in a defensive war over 50 years ago and has responsibly controlled the area ever since. It's past time for the United States to recognize reality by affirming Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights."

The resolution, if passed, will only have a symbolic meaning because it is not a bill and because the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that only the executive branch can decide on U.S. policy when it comes to recognizing the sovereignty of other countries.

Officials in the Trump administration have indicated in recent months that they were open to an official U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory.  U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Israel Hayom in September that he "can't imagine a circumstance where the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria." He added: "I can't think of a less deserving person to receive this kind of reward than [Syrian President] Bashar Assad."

Ariel Kahana


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