Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:48 am Post subject: Golan Endgame
By Louis Rene Beres and Paul E. Vallely
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 19, 2007
Once again, a misguided Prime Minister of Israel believes that the
Israel Defense Force (IDF) could defend his imperiled country's
borders without the 452-square mile Golan plateau. Israel annexed the
Golan in 1981 after defeating Syrian aggression in June 1967, and
after enduring the Yom Kippur surprise attacks of October 1973. When
Israeli opponents of the annexation argued that the application of
Israeli law did not apply real sovereignty, the Israeli Supreme Court
ruled otherwise: "Wherever in the law it says Israel or the State of
Israel," said the Court, "Ramat HaGolan is included."
Now Prime Minister Olmert seeks a "settlement" with Syria. But
Damascus shares with Iran a determined commitment to destroy Israel
and to support assorted terrorist groups seeking the same goal. Mr.
Olmert's position is premised on an exchange of the Golan for a
codified peace with Syria. Trying to placate the United States, he
fails to appreciate the overwhelming strategic consequences of
territorial surrender. Nor, it seems, does Mr. Olmert acknowledge the
historic importance of Ramat HaGolan in Jewish nationhood.
If Syrian President Bashar Assad were serious about peace, he would
agree to crack down on Lebanon's Hizbullah and also to close down
offices of the many terrorist organizations that still thrive in his
country. Even if formal talks were reopened, Syria would be risking
nothing. Israel's risks, on the other hand, could be existential.
Before 1967, Syria routinely attacked Israeli kibbutzim east of the
Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), from the mountainous areas. Today, an
Israeli Golan withdrawal, from an area less than 1% (0.6%) of Syria's
total size, could leave the northern region of Israel open to wider
Syrian or even Iranian invasion through the Jordan Valley. History
records that more than sixty assaults on the Land of Israel west of
the Jordan were launched from or through the Golan. Such a withdrawal
could also destroy and uproot 32 Golan Jewish communities and
threaten a third of Israel's water supply. Syria is a riparian state,
and any Golan transfer would damage Israel's tourism and fishing
The proposed Olmert argument is based on a na´ve legalism. Without an
Israel-Syria peace agreement (only at Syria's insistence, a state of
belligerency remains), a major war could presumably erupt at any
time. Further, any Israeli plan to prevent war with Syria would
allegedly require a demilitarized Golan Heights. In reality, a Syrian
demilitarization of the Golan, which is roughly the size of New York
City's borough of Queens, could never happen. The core problem of the
Prime Minister's incorrect reasoning lies in the stark limits of
legal guarantees in our anarchic world. A related problem inheres in
constantly changing missile and satellite technologies.
For real security, the IDF must retain its surveillance positions on
the Golan, especially on Mt. Harmon. Pre-1967 warning stations do not
have a clear line of sight deep into Syrian territory. Israel should
not be dependent upon third parties for crucial intelligence. Even a
demilitarized Golan with advanced early warning systems involving the
United States would be inadequate. This was already understood
shortly after the June 1967 war, when the U.S. Joint Chiefs (JCS)
issued an authoritative report advising permanent Israeli retention
of the Golan.
Ironically, for the past forty years, Israel's border with Syria has
been more quiet than that country's borders with Egypt and Jordan,
states with which Israel is formally "at peace." Damascus still
demands that Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 line - not to the
international border (as in the case of Egypt), but all the way to
the Sea of Galilee. Yet, before 1948, the lake was entirely within
Syria has missiles that place all of Israel within easy range of
chemical and other WMD warheads. An Israeli abandonment of the Golan
would do nothing to change this intolerable strategic situation. Nor
would it reduce the prospect of all-out war on the Lebanese front or
impair the influence of various Palestinian terrorist factions still
based securely in Damascus.
The Golan, which ranges up to a height of 7300 feet, dominates the
Jordan Valley (the lowest point on Earth) as well as the Bashan
Plateau, northeast up to Damascus. Here there are only two natural
terrain bottlenecks. These choke points are defensible. With this
plateau in Syrian hands, however, enemy tanks, backed up by missiles
and aircraft, could potentially penetrate Israel. This would remain
true even if the area were "demilitarized."
Surrender of the Golan Heights would be inconsistent with Israel's
overall security and its protection of vulnerable populations. Israel
must properly define its northern borders accordingly. Such
definition is logically prior to defense. The Golan, long important
in Jewish history, must remain firmly in Israeli hands.
Israel and the United States have coincident security interests.
Together, both countries must now "stand up" to an especially
determined enemy of peace and democracy in the Middle East. It is
manifestly not in Israel's or America's interest to encourage renewed
Syrian aggressions or to enlarge geographic opportunity for radical
Islamist sanctuaries. By resisting an additional Israeli territorial
loss on the Golan, there would be greater safety for the citizens of
New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as those of Jerusalem and
Tel-Aviv. Within such an understanding of courage, determination and
inter-dependence lies the most meaningful endgame.
JUDEA & SAMARIA are clear and unquestionably JEWISH!
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