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Long Overdue: Congress Wants Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

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While the Democrats have become the party and the face of the new antisemitism, the Republicans are doing what is right, rational and righteous.

The Golan is  critical to Israel’s security. This key territory could help Israel defend itself from attacks by Iranian forces and others operating in Syria. Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel in the June 1967 war — when the United Arab Republic, Jordan, and Syria attacked the tiny Jewish state.

Iran’s vow to annihilate the Jewish state and the continuing political turmoil in the Muslim world and its accompanying Jew-hatred only reinforce Israel’s need for long-term defensible borders.

Israeli Control of the Golan Heights: High Strategic and Moral Ground for Israel

MAP 1: Northern Israel


Security Needs

The Golan Heights is a sloping plateau, ascending from 300 meters on its west end to 1,000 meters on its east end, and covering a total area
of 1,800 km (695 sq. mi.). The Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee (part of the Syrian-African Rift) mark its western border, the Yarmuk River demarcates its southern perimeter, and the hills along the watershed line and the Rokad River bound it on the east. The 2,814 meter-high Hermon Mountain (partially in Israeli territory) marks the northern boundary of the Heights (see Map 1 and 2). The Hermon provides an excellent vantage point for the entire region – up to Damascus, only some 60 kilometers to the east, and over to the Haifa Bay, on the Mediterranean to the west (see Map 2). The Golan Heights dominate the Jordan River valley, the Israeli Galilee to its west, and the area leading to Damascus to its east.

Map 2: Mount Hermon Overlooks Damascus and Haifa (A North to South Perspective)

Militarily, withdrawal from the Golan Heights would be extremely problematic. Control of this area gives Israel several important advantages, including those that were crucial in repelling the surprise Syrian military onslaught in October 1973, and has enabled Israel to maintain stability along this border. Indeed, despite the absence of a peace treaty, and despite regional tensions that eventually led to violent clashes between Israel and Arab actors, the border between Israel and Syria has remained quiet since 1974. Even the military confrontation between Israeli and Syrian units in 1982, in the Lebanese arena, did not extend to the Golan Heights.

The current border along the watershed line – the hills in the Eastern part of the plateau – is the best defense line against a conventional
military attack from the east. Such an attack must overcome the topographical superiority of the defensive force, as the

terrain requires the attacking side to channel its forces in between the hills. These natural terrain bottlenecks allow a small defending force to repel an attack and bring in reinforcements if needed. In the 1973 October War, the Golan’s topography enabled 177 defending tanks to stop approximately 1,500 Syrian tanks and gave the IDF the critical time to call up and deploy its reserve formations.6 An armored attack can hardly be successful and cannot be sustained for long without taking the hills that Israel presently controls.

No other line on the plateau can confer such defensive advantages as the current border is based on the watershed line and the whole terrain west of this line descends toward the eastern cliffs on the Jordan River. A withdrawal from the Golan would place Israeli troops at its bottom, about 200 meters below sea level, with a very steep gradient toward the plateau at about 300 meters above sea level, making recapturing this territory in a crisis a very complicated military operation (see Topographical Cross-Section on Map 1 and Map 3).

Map 3: The Golan Heights

Control over the Golan Heights enhances the safety of the strategic Haifa Bay area on the Mediterranean Coast by increasing its distance from Syrian positions to almost 90 kilometers. The Bay area is an important industrial hub, houses one of two main Israeli ports, and forms part of the strategically vital triangle, alongside Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, that holds most of the country’s infrastructure and population.

Israeli military presence in the Golan Heights also prevents the formation of an indefensible pocket in the narrow strip (about 7 kilometers wide and 26 kilometers long) of the Upper Galilee, the northernmost part of Israel, an area sandwiched between Hizballah- controlled southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights (see Map 4).

Tens of thousands of Israeli citizens in this “Finger of the Galilee” could be easily disconnected from Israel and taken hostage in the case of a coordinated attack by Syria, if it controlled the Golan, and an Iranian-inspired Hizballah.7 The capacity of this organization to inflict damage upon Israel has grown considerably since the end of the 2006 Lebanon War.

Map 4: “Finger of the Galilee”

Read the rest.

Congress Wants Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

Despite failed bid, hearing will press Trump admin to support Israeli ownership of contested land

By Adam Kredo, Free Beacon, July 15, 2018:

Congress is renewing efforts to press the Trump administration into recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the contested Golan Heights region on Israel’s northern border with Syria, bucking efforts by GOP leadership to kill the effort, according to conversations with lawmakers.

The House’s National Security Subcommittee, led by chairman Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) will hold a hearing Tuesday to examine how recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the territory could bolster U.S. national security efforts to stem the flow of terrorists in the Jewish state and elsewhere in the region by giving the Jewish state unilateral control over the Syrian territory, where Iranian-backed fighters and other jihadists have been spotted since the start of a bloody civil war.

The push to have the Trump administration formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territory comes following a Monday afternoon press conference between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladamir Putin, where the two leaders discussed efforts to decrease tension in Syria.

When DeSantis and other Republicans pushed a congressional resolution recognizing Israeli control over the Golan Heights in May, it was nixed by GOP leadership who were seeking to prevent such a vote on the heels of the Trump administration’s successful effort to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The resolution had won support from Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and others.

DeSantis expressed disappointment at the time in comments to the Free Beacon.

“I don’t know why my Golan Heights amendment was not made in order and thus denied a vote,” DeSantis said. “It was a germane amendment that would have provided the House with a chance to add clarity to the broader U.S. policy vis-a-vis Syria.  How could we even contemplate supporting anything other than the application of Israeli sovereignty to such a strategically significant area, especially given the plethora of malevolent forces that undermine security in the region?”

DeSantis, who will chair Tuesday’s hearing, told the Washington Free Beacon he will not stand down despite opposition by some to formally recognizing Israeli control over the territory, which Israel annexed in 1981.

“U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights is overdue and I hope this hearing demonstrates that the time is right for the Trump administration to do so,” DeSantis told the Free Beacon. “As we’ve seen with the successful relocation of our American embassy to Jerusalem, when the U.S. leads with purpose and conviction good things happen.”

The United States has declined for decades to take a position on the status of this territory, but lawmakers such as DeSantis argue the time is right for this effort, particularly in light of the chaos in Syria and the threat it poses to Israeli and U.S. security assets in the region.

sraeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have supported such efforts and also have requested the Trump administration move to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory. Public calls for the recognition increased after the Free Beacon first reported on the now-dead congressional resolution on the matter.

The Tuesday hearing will focus on Iran’s destabilizing efforts in Syria and how it has impacted regional security, according to information viewed by the Free Beacon.

Congressional officials and other supporters argue that U.S. recognition of Israeli control of the Golan Heights could thwart Russia and Iran’s growing influence in Syria and also send a powerful message that the United States sides with the Jewish state’s security interests as regional tensions grow.

The United States, under numerous governments, has assured the Israeli government that it supports Israel’s annexation of the territory, but has declined to go as far as backing a full recognition of sovereignty. The area remains a key territory that could help Israel defend itself from attacks by Iranian forces and others operating in Syria, supporters argue.

Iranian militants who are still operating freely in Syria as they defend embattled President Bashar al-Assad have used the Golan Heights and areas near it to target Israel.

In February, for instance, Israel intercepted an armed Iranian drone that had entered its airspace via Syria.

In May, Iranian forces in Syria fired at least 20 rockets at Israeli military personnel stationed in the Golan Heights, leading the Trump White House to issue public statements supporting Israel’s right to self-defense in the face of such attacks.

Witnesses testifying at the Tuesday hearing include Dore Gold, a veteran Israeli official who most recently served as director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2015 to 2016; Michael Doran, a former senior director of the White House’s the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration; Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America; and Eugene Kontorovich, a Northwestern University professor of law who has studied Israel’s legal claims to the Golan Heights.

The Truth Must be Told

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