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Insights into Editorial: Why Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory matters

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Insights into Editorial: Why Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory matters


                    

Context:

US President Mr. Trump’s tweet marked a reversal of decades of US policy, which has refused to condone the Israeli occupation of Golan, and urged that the dispute must be resolved diplomatically.

President Trump made new U.S. policy, with a tweet recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights on the border with Syria.

The President has earlier recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the American Embassy there from Tel Aviv, and stopped aid to Palestinian refugees.

Last year, the US voted against a ritual annual UN resolution condemning Israel’s continued seizure of the Golan Heights.

Because nothing is happening on Golan and nobody expects Israel to pull back in any case, Trump’s tweet does not change anything what it does, however, is extend legitimacy to Israel’s position.

 

Golan Heights: A Political and Strategic asset:

  • The Golan Heights is a strategic high ground at the southwestern corner of Syria with stunning, broad views of both Israel and Syria below.

 

  • It is roughly about 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) and borders the Sea of Galilee.

 

  • Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Six-Day War and applied Israeli law there in 1981 under then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

 

  • N. Security Council resolution 497 refers to Israel’s action as “null and void and without international legal effect.”

 

  • The two sides of Israel and Syria appeared close to a deal in 2000, but disagreement over its fate ultimately foiled the talks.

 

  • The civil war in Syria over the past eight years has been the priority and the areas adjacent to the Golan nearly fell to the rebels at one point.

 

  • Having recovered those areas with Russia’s help, Assad and his allies will likely seize on Trump’s move to renew its claims to the Golan.

 

  • The Golan Heights is a strategically valuable high-altitude plateau that overlooks Syria and the Jordan Valley.

 

  • It is considered militarily significant for both Syria and Israel, and Israel also considers the territory a “buffer-zone” that contributes to its self-defense.

 

  • In addition to its military value, the Golan Heights is also a strategic asset due to its water resources and fertile land.

 

  • The area houses the Jordan River’s drainage basin, Lake Tiberias, the Yarmuk River and underground aquifers.

 

  • Israel extracts a third of its water from the Golan Heights. In a relatively parched region of the world, control over the Golan’s water supplies is

 

  • The Golan Heights may also have oil. Exploratory drilling suggests that the territory’s reservoirs could potentially yield billions of barrels.

 

Present living Population in Golan Heights:

According to some estimates, there are around 50,000 people, with Israeli Jewish settlers making up nearly half.

The rest are mostly people of Syrian ancestry who are Druze, a religion that has been described as an offshoot of Ismaili Islam.

Druze residents of the Golan Heights have largely resisted obtaining Israeli citizenship and have maintained a strong connection to Syria for decades.

But overall, life in the Golan Heights has been relatively tranquil compared with other places on Israel’s frontiers.

Israeli and Syrian armies are separated by a 400 sq. km demilitarized zone, which neither side can enter and Israel argues that Golan Heights is a security buffer against the war in Syria.

 

What changed on recent Policy shift by US?

For decades, the United Nations and the United States refused to recognize Israel’s seizure of the Golan Heights and the West Bank in 1967, arguing that the contours of Israel must be negotiated diplomatically.

Mr. Trump mentioned that, after 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability.

Recognition of the Golan Heights could pave the way for US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Palestinian occupied territories.

In a recent state department report on human rights, the administration changed its description of the West Bank and Gaza from “occupied territories” to “Israeli-controlled territories”.

 

Conclusion:

Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the move, calling it a “direct violation of UN decisions.”

They highlighted that Changing the status of the Golan Heights bypassing the Security Council is in direct violation of UN decisions.

Some analysts pointed out that Mr. Trump’s gesture amounted to a form of compensation to Israel, since he has ordered American troops to withdraw from Syria leaving Israel more vulnerable to attacks.

The Syrian government said in a statement it is now more intent on liberating the Golan, “using every possible means.”

The announcement was the latest in a series of steps under the Trump administration that have reshaped the United States role in conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors, to the benefit of Israel’s right-wing government.

Former diplomats said Mr. Trump’s action was unnecessary and would inflame an issue that had been largely dormant.

They also said it would embolden other world leaders who seized territory in violation of international norms.