While Israel is reportedly putting pressure on Washington to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, Jerusalem would be better served by creating realities on the ground that keep the Golan under Israeli sovereignty.
By: Daniel Krygier
During a recent visit to Israel, National Security Adviser John Bolton of President Trump said that the US is not currently discussing a possible recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In recent months, the Netanyahu government has reportedly been pressured to recognize the Golan as Israeli territory.
After the recognition by President Trump of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, some in Jerusalem see a chance to extend that recognition to the Golan. The future of the Golan Heights, however, depends less on Washington's statements and more proactive actions from Jerusalem.
The Golan Heights remain an area of great strategic importance for Israel. The supreme heights overlook much of the north of Israel and the crucial freshwater supply of Israel in the Sea of Galilee is fed with flows from the Golan. Israeli troops conquered the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967.
Prior to the war, Syrian forces in the Golan Heights regularly threatened and threatened Israeli border communities. The area was annexed by Israel in 1981, a movement that was not recognized by the international community.
The Golan is steeped in Jewish history. The old Jewish city of Gamla for example, often called North Masada & # 39; called. In modern times, the area is much longer under Israeli control than Syrian control. The borders have been disputed since the British and the French cut out the region after the international San Remo conference in 1920.
The Golan height: still strategically significant
In an era of rockets, some experts have argued that areas such as the Golan Heights have lost their strategic importance. The opposite is true, however.
A territorial buffer gives Israel more time to stop incoming threats such as missiles and enemy fighter planes. It also gives the Israeli civilian population more time to reach bomb shelters in times of war. The civil war in Syria has only increased the strategic importance of Golan Hill for Jerusalem.
Although it has been under Israeli control for more than 50 years, the Golan height remains underpopulated and underdeveloped. Only about 20,000 Jews live next to a Druze population of similar size. Modern Israel's founder David Ben-Gurion knew first-hand that the creation of realities on the ground is decisive for the future of areas and boundaries.
Israeli calls for dramatic increases in the Jewish population on the Golan Heights remain largely unrealized. Although the area is known for its natural beauty and excellent wines, there is hardly any industry except tourism. This reality undermines Israel's strategic interest in keeping the Golan as a buffer against threats from Syria. Israel should therefore concentrate on creating realities on the ground that would nullify the balance in favor of Israel.
A Golan with more than 100,000 Jews and thriving industries would point to the seriousness of Jerusalem in permanently keeping the territory under Israeli sovereignty. This would also increase the likelihood that Washington recognizes the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
Although most of the world still does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, there are few who believe that Israel will ever give up its capital. This Israeli determination led to Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and also having to be replicated in the Golan Heights.