Golan Heights: Understanding the dispute - Seeker's Thoughts

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Monday, 25 March 2019

Golan Heights: Understanding the dispute





President Donald Trump has pledged to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Germany and other US allies oppose the move.



What is Golan Heights?


Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the Six-Day War in 1967, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

About the people of Golan Heights
There are about 40,000 people living in the Golan. Around half of them are Jewish settlers. The rest are Druze and a small minority of Alawites. 

Druze are Arabs who practice an offshoot of Islam. Many of them consider themselves Syrian. Alawites are a branch of Shiite Islam. Syrian President Bashar Assad and key figures in his regime are Alawites.


Israeli claims and a UN rebuff

Israel took control over the western two-thirds of the Golan Heights, which was previously part of Syria, during the Six-Day War in 1967. The eastern portion of Golan remained under the control of the Syrian Arab Republic.
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The western section of the Golan remained occupied by the Israeli army from 1967 until December 14, 1981, when the Israeli government passed the Golan Heights Law, essentially annexing the area.


Despite the fact that Israeli settlements had been built in the area, the move was roundly condemned in the United Nations Security Council when it passed UN Resolution 497 on December 17, 1981, declaring the annexation "null and void and without international legal effect."

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The United States is the only country that has signaled a willingness to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.


What is Six-day war


The “six Day war” Israel conducted a pre-emptive attack against Egypt and gained control over territory formerly controlled by Egypt, Syria and Jordan.


The immediate result was the defeat of the combined armies of Syria, Egypt and Jordan and the capture by Israel of all of the Sinai Peninsula, all of the West Bank and a big part of the Golan Heights from Syria

The immediate result was not only totally devastating for the regimes but also for the people of Palestine who were living in the West Bank as well as in Gaza.


 Israel began establishing a settlement in Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, the west bank, east Jerusalem


Israel and the U.S Support


The U.S has played a significant role as the mediator role in the Israeli Palestine conflict. After the failed 2000 Camp David Summit, Washington never made any meaningful attempt to push the Israelis to accept the two-state proposal.
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The 2007 Annapolis conference was a failure too. The previous U.S administration launched a peace bid which also collapsed at an early stage.


The U.S.A has been criticized by the OIC (organization of Islamic cooperation) and other Arab organization, for vetoing most Security Council decision critical of Israel.

The U.S.A has more Jews than Israel. Jews have significant control over the US media and economy.


Also, Israel receives about 3$ billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s entire foreign aid budget. On the other side, United States has been vocal about its intention to veto any Palestinian bid for statehood. Due to which Palestine had to be satisfied with a non-member observer status in UN. 

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The second term of previous administration saw a degrading US-Israel relationship. Iran Nuclear deal of 2015 irritated Israel and it criticized the US for the deal.

With the new presidency regime under America, who is more inclined to Israel, the illegal settlement by Israel in the west bank and Gaza may see a rise.


Australia recognized west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2018. Australia also supported the two state solutions while Israel and Palestine fight un Jerusalem.  Most of the foreign nations have avoided moving embassies until the city gets final status. US President Trump first moved US embassy in 2018. 


The Israel- Palestine conflict- often referred to as the world’s most intractable conflict. It is a dispute over land as claimed by Jews and Arabs. Jews claim that they have a birthright on Palestine, and seek for self-determination.  Despite repeated attempts to end the conflict between the two countries, there is no peace settlement in sight. 


The Israeli- Palestinian conflict is over who gets what portion of land and how it’s controlled. Though both Jew and Arab Muslim claims to the land back a couple thousand years, the current political conflict began in the early 20th century.


Israel is the world’s only Jewish state, located in the east of the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinians are the Arabic population that comes from the land Israel now controls.


Resolutions- 242, and 338

In response the war, the UN Security Council passes resolution 242, which calls for the withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.


Egypt and Syria organized a surprise attack on Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan heights on the day of the Muslim month of Ramadan, in which the annual fast is performed.


The UN Security Council passes resolution 338, which calls for an immediate cease- fire.


Historical background: The Zionist Movement 


The land of Palestine is very important to the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Palestinian residents want to establish a state by the name on all or part of the same land.


Historically, the majority of Jews lived in Europe. Over the years, Jews were treated miserably in Europe. They were treated like the weird sect, accused of the killing of Christ, blamed for some of the misfortunes that happened to Europe, etc. 


European Jews were perceived as the evil and blamed for many things. Over that time, the idea of creating a Jewish State came up to free Jews from the tyrants of medieval Europe. 


During the late 19th century, and as Europe was being shaped by nationalistic waves that led to the rise of the Nazi, Jews of Europe didn’t fit in the mostly Christian Europe—things just started to become worse for the majority of them. 

The idea of creating a Jewish state became an urgent need as the rise of Hitler was worst for Jews. The Holocaust, also referred to as the Shoah, was a genocide during World War II in which Nazi Germany, aided by its collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, between 1941 and 1945.


Zionism is a controversial movement largely made up of secular Jews, fueled by a desire to achieve and maintain a Jewish state in the "Holy Land". And, The Zionist movement is a movement of world Jewry that arose late in the 19th century with the aim of creating a Jewish state in Palestine



The Holocaust

Jews, wanted their own state and in the justification of why Palestine, historian believe it’s to do with the fact that Palestine is important to the Jewish faith, as it’s important to other faiths as well, but anyway so the idea was appealing at first, and more so as the Ottoman Empire was at its deathbed, so Jews of Europe thought that Palestine was a good idea. 


However, the Arabs resisted, seeing the land as rightfully theirs. Arab nationals battled several wars over the territory. 


Today’s lines largely echo the consequences of two of these wars, one happened in 1948 and another in 1967. The 1967 war is chiefly important for today’s conflict, as it left Israel in control of the west bank and Gaza strip, two territories home to large Palestinian populations.


Jordan established control over the west bank with the agreement of Israel and Egypt established control of the Gaza strip. Control of Jerusalem is split between Israel in the west and Jordan in the east. 

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