21 March 2019   1 comment

The Trump Administration has recognized Israeli control over the Golan Heights, territory Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 war. The formal recognition came via a Tweet from President Trump (it is hard for me to accept that such consequential decisions are communicated to the world through such informal channels): ““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!” The Golan Heights was one of three territories seized by Israel in 1967: the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt are the other two. The status of the three territories was decided by the UN Security Council on 22 November 1967 in Resolution 242:

The Security Council,

Expressing
 its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

1. Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

2. Affirms further the necessity

(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;

(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.

Since 1967, most of the world has interpreted 1 (1) [“Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”] as meaning that the three territories were “Occupied Territories” in the meaning of the 4th Geneva Convention, Article 47:

” ART. 47. — Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.

Israel has never accepted the responsibilities as defined by the Geneva Convention and it now appears that the US does not accept Article 47 either, even though it is a signatory to the convention.

The United Nations made its position on the Occupied Territories even more explicit in 1981. Alex Ward describes the attitude toward territorial acquisition by conquest:

UN Security Council Resolution 497, adopted in December 1981, which notes that ‘the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible’ and, more to the point, ‘the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void.’”

The US decision will undoubtedly help Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in his bid for another term in the election scheduled for 9 April. But the decision diminishes the possibility of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. This decision is yet another one that makes peace in the Middle East less likely.

The Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit issued a statement that the League continues to support Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights. We will have to wait to see what the reactions of Syria, Russia, and Iran are to the US decision. From the Syrian perspective, the annexation is a sufficient justification for war.

The question is whether this decision emboldens parts of the Israeli citizenry that wishes to fully annex the West Bank as well. The US already moved its Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli control over the entire city. And US Secretary of State Pompeo visited the Western Wall (the Kotel) accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Up to this point, US diplomats had approached the wall alone in order to avoid implicitly recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the wall. It appears as if the US is fully prepared to sanction Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank as well.

Golan Heights

Posted March 21, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “21 March 2019

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  1. Maryloucarp@gmail.com

    On Thu, Mar 21, 2019 at 8:01 PM World Politics News wrote:

    > vferraro1971 posted: ” The Trump Administration has recognized Israeli > control over the Golan Heights, territory Israel seized from Syria in the > 1967 war. The formal recognition came via a Tweet from President Trump (it > is hard for me to accept that such consequential decisi” >

    Like

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