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Arabs See Netanyahu’s Intentions for Golan Heights as ‘Irrelevant’
An Israeli soldier observes skiers on Mount Hermon on the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan Heights. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Arabs See Netanyahu’s Intentions for Golan Heights as ‘Irrelevant’

Convinced U.S. will do Israel’s bidding, Palestinians say because Trumps says so doesn’t make it so

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is pressing the Trump Administration to recognize its sovereignty over the Golan Heights as part of the decision to withdraw U.S. military personnel from Syria. Although not a new request, the Israeli brain trust apparently believes the idea might resonate more forcefully in the context of the announced plans to withdraw American forces from Syria – this before visiting U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton signaled an about face on plans for the pullout at a joint news conference with Netanyahu.

The Golan Heights is a 700 square mile plateau situated high above and to the east of the Sea of Galilee. Since Israeli forces conquered the Golan in the 1967 war, thousands of citizens, a wine industry and agricultural enterprises have moved in despite Syrian claims to the land. Strategically, for the Israelis, the Golan Heights commands a crucial presence above Israel’s fertile northern areas to the west and north and east, a convergence with Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

At the news conference, the prime minister highlighted the Golan, calling on Bolton to visit the area with him on Monday and making his case regarding its significance to Israel’s security. He said to the American envoy that, “When you are there you will be able to understand very well the reason behind our refusal to withdraw from the Golan Heights and the importance for the U.S. to recognize Israeli sovereignty over it.” Netanyahu continued, “I talked about it with President Trump and I hope that I’ll be able to show it to you in the framework of our visit.”

“I don’t think Netanyahu would ask for such thing unless he was already guaranteed the approval from the American administration,” Moeen al-Taher, a Jordanian political analyst, clarified. “He [Netanyahu] is certain of the answer; except for that he wouldn’t risk it and put himself in an embarrassing situation in case the American Administration refused.”

Al-Taher pointed out that Israel’s approach in general is a policy of imposing a fait accompli rather than waiting for international legitimacy.

During the conference Netanyahu thanked Bolton for his “extraordinary support for Israel,” and notably its withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement and the re-imposition of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Lebanese activist Nada Nasif opined to The Media Line that Netanyahu is trying to take the maximum advantage of the American president. “The Zionist entity is simply doing the best it can to benefit from an absolutely selfish person, who is Trump. It is working hard to achieve [recognition of sovereignty] in a certain timeframe: while Trump is still the president of the U.S.”

Analyst Hani Masri told The Media Line that “Israel wants to show that it is winning in any form. The American recognition won’t change anything on the ground or the status of the occupied Golan Heights.”

Muhannad, a Syrian activist who spoke to The Media Line on condition of anonymity for reasons of personal safety, asserted that the Israeli request is pointless whether the U.S. is going to meet it or not. “At the end of the day, Trump’s recognition is simply not important and won’t change anything on the ground; what has been taken by force, will never return without force.”

The U.S is free to decide what it wants and that even if Trump denied the Israeli demand, that won’t help Syria restore its occupied territories, explained. “It’s the same case as Jerusalem: the Arabs and Palestinians protested for days over the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and that didn’t change anything.”

Muhannad believes that the majority of the Arab leaders are full of promises and bright speeches and when it comes to actions, they all seek America’s blessing and approvals. “It’s time for us to stop pleasing the U.S. and Russia and instead build our countries and fight using the same methods.”

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