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Trump: It’s time “to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights”

Trump: It’s time “to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights”

The Trump administration is embracing Israel as the Ilhan-Omar-compliant Democrat presidential candidates boycott the AIPAC annual conference.

There were news reports recently that during Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to D.C., during which he will meet with Trump, the United States would recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The Heights had only been Syrian territory since 1948, after the end of the French Mandate, Syrian independence, and the Arab attempt to destroy Israel.  Syria used the Golan Heights to aim artillery and sniper fire on Israel. Israel captured the Golan Heights during the 1967 war, and almost lost it during the surprise attack in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Trump didn’t wait for Netanyahu’s visit, tweeting today:

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!

It’s unclear if this makes it “official” or just an aspiration. Netanyahu is treating it like a done deal, tweeting in response:

At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!

Netanyahu called Trump to thank him:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke this evening with @POTUS Donald Trump and thanked him for the decision to recognize the Golan Heights. Prime Minister Netanyahu told US President Trump: “You made history.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also announced the decision in Jerusalem:

“Tonight President Trump made the decision to recognize…[the Golan Heights] is proper to be a sovereign part of the State of Israel. The people of Israel should know the battles they fought, the lives that they lost on that very ground, were worthy and meaningful.”

The move not only made history, like the move of the Embassy to Jerusalem, it also gives Netanyahu a big boost barely two weeks before the April 9 elections.

This is a hugely important development because of the strategic value of the heights, which tower over not only the Sea of Galilee (what Israelis call the Kinneret), but also the Galilee region of northern Israel.

I have visited the Golan Heights multiple times, the first time being in 1980 when I worked on a kibbutz in the Galilee. I remember hiking with our group, led by an kibbutz member who was a commando, and hearing the thunder of tank practice fire. I also remember the beauty of the area.

I visited again in 2013, and you can read my posts about the battle sites I visited:

[Tel Saki Battle Memorial, Golan Heights][Photo by William Jacobson 2013]

[Valley of Tears Monument – Golan Heights – Israeli and Syrian Tanks][Photo by William Jacobson]

This shows the view from inside a captured Syrian bunker on the heights looking over northern Israel:

[Kibbutz Kfar Haruv, Israel, View from Syrian Bunker][Photo William Jacobson 2013]

You can read about Israel’s claim under international law to sovereignty over the Golan Heights in this 2018 congressional testimony by law professor Eugene Kontorovich:

The widely-repeated view that recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would be contrary to international law is based on one fundamental assumption: that at least since the adoption of U.N. Charter, international law prohibits any acquisition of foreign territory by force. While such a formulation of the rule is largely accurate, it omits crucial exceptions quite relevant to the case of the Golan Heights.

Whatever the current status of an absolute prohibition on territorial change resulting from war, there was certainly no such blanket prohibition in 1967, when the territory came under Israeli control. At the time, international law only prohibited acquisition of force in illegal or aggressive wars. This is evident from the source of the prohibition in the UN Charter, post-Charter state practice, and the understandings of international jurists at the time. There is simply no precedent or authoritative source for forbidding defensive conquest in 1967.

Professor Kontorovich further explained the point in this interview:

The move also has domestic U.S. political implications. It is another embrace of Israel by the Trump administration at a time when Democrat presidential candidates are bowing to the will of Ilhan Omar and are boycotting the AIPAC annual conference, at which Netanhayu will be speaking:

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former House of Representatives member Beto O’Rourke and Senator Kamala Harris of California, all of whom announced they would run for the Democratic primaries next year, decided not to attend the conference. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who considers running for president as an independent candidate, will also avoid attending the conference.

The absence of these Democratic candidates comes as the organization MoveOn called on the Democratic presidential candidates not to attend this year’s conference, claiming that AIPAC worked to derail the nuclear agreement with Iran, on which former President Barack Obama worked hard, and on the grounds that the lobby uses “anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric.” According to MoveOn, by boycotting the conference, Democratic candidates will be able to show that they are truly progressive.

Omar and anti-Israel activists are giddy and bragging about Democrats dropping like flies from the AIPAC conference:

The question is whether there will be an electoral price tag for Democrat presidential candidates genuflecting to the anti-Israel hard left and Islamists.

AG Conservative on Twitter summed it up:

Omar’s smear clearly worked. AIPAC is the most moderately pro-Israel group in the country. Every major Dem has spoken at the conference for decades. This is a direction they are actively choosing and voters should take notice.

[Featured Image: Golan Heights over Sea of Galilee, Photo credit: William Jacobson 2013]


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Worst Hitler Ever™

    LukeHandCool in reply to Frank G. | March 22, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    This isn’t “leading from behind.”

    Thus, there will be no Nobel Peace Prize.

    What a disaster.

What a difference to have someone bold in office, willing to make moves that will be uniformly criticized in the press and be unadraid is the consequences. There is little doubt in my mind that this has the blessing of Egypt and MBS, which belies all the fussing in the press. The former aggressors support the action.

It is liberating, exhilarating, and a breath of fresh air. The stench of cowardice in Republican leadership being washed away. What swamp critter would dare to do this? Not McCain, not Romney. The Bushes never did.

How ironic that the moral clarity to do the big, bold right things come from a man who is flawed personally. How it must grate on the elites in Washington that such a man’s actions expose them for who they are.

I suspect a decade from now this era will have Trump viewed more like a Greek hero in the classical sense, flawed but daring fate.

The words of Teddy Roosevelt come to mind. I could get used to 5 more years of these kinds of actions.

    Colonel Travis in reply to PrincetonAl. | March 21, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    Agree but I’d argue that with the exception of Trump, the Republican leadership cowardice is still there.

    The party, on the whole, is awful.

    tom_swift in reply to PrincetonAl. | March 22, 2019 at 4:06 am

    What is this “flawed” crap? If you write it enough times in a day you win a free toaster, or what?

Compare to that piece of garbage, obama.

Speaking of garbage:

Clinton, in newly revealed emails, discussed classified foreign policy matters, secretive ‘private’ comms channel:

AG Barr: where are you?

No Democrat candidates to AIPAC? All things considered, that is probably for the best.

The big question is: Will President Trump be there? The AIPAC website shows Vice President Pence as a speaker. Also, Democrats Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Steny Hoyer are listed as confirmed speakers. President Trump would be the icing on the cake. There couldn’t be a stronger contrast between the Democrats and Republicans policies in the Middle East.

This move is long overdue. There must be a signal that if your country goes to war as the aggressor, and you lose, that you will pay a price.

Imagine the same critics of today if Syria had managed to capture a portion, the smallest portion, of Israel in the ’73 war and keep it. Imagine if Syria had then declared that the captured land was now part of sovereign Syria. How would these same people say?

To ask the question is, of course, to answer it.

It might seem arrogant of me to offer a concurring opinion since I don’t have a law degree, but I do know a bit about international law simply as a result of being a naval officer. We have to know about the laws pertaining to armed conflict.

The professor is exactly right. If a country is attacked, as Israel has been many times, and that country defends itself effectively and manages to hold onto its own territory and seize enemy territory it doesn’t need to give it back.

Try to find the German Baltic enclave on a map of Europe. You’ll never do it. The enclave, between Poland and Lithuania, still exists. It’s just under new management, so to speek.

    Milhouse in reply to Arminius. | March 24, 2019 at 2:25 am

    The allegation is that this changed with the adoption of the UN Charter. Kontorovich convincingly argues that it didn’t. Even he allows that this may be international law now, but says it definitely wasn’t in 1967.

The concept of uti possidetis is as old as war itself. Very, very loosely translated, it means “to the victors go the spoils.”

Thank you William Jacobson for your website. I remember you were one of the very first to point out Fauxcahontas. Now we are witnessing tectonic plates of politics shifting. The implications of President Trump’s March 21 tweet and the decision making behind it will reverberate both domestically and internationally for a long long time. It may take a day or so to register but watch heads dramatically explode.

Bucky Barkingham | March 22, 2019 at 7:30 am

How long before the Lefty House, spurred on by Tlaib and Omar, pass a resolution condemning this action by Trump?

buckeyeminuteman | March 22, 2019 at 8:04 am

I swam in the Kinneret near Tiberias and went to Capernaum last year. The Galilee area is absolutely beautiful. So quiet and peaceful. Hot sun and cool breeze. No giant resorts or noisy boardwalks. Farms all around. Didn’t go over to the Golan side as we were on a day trip from Ashdod. Israel is absolutely right in holding their territory and Trump is right in acknowledging it.

In spite of what the Dems say, Trump is the worst Nazi ever. He should try harder to emulate Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and Talib.

I fear that after these highly publicized events of the US backing Israel Trump will demand a painful concession such as giving Juda and/or Samaria to the Arabs. I really hope not.

    Valerie in reply to broomhandle. | March 22, 2019 at 11:25 am

    There is a two state solution, sitting right there on the map. The Palestinians got a country long ago. Its name is Jordan.

    The current set of Palestinians under Hamas are not the same as the ones that became Jordan’s citizens. They are people encouraged to emigrate to the “refugee camps” for the purpose of raising Hell.

      iconotastic in reply to Valerie. | March 22, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      Just as Egypt does not want to take over Gaza and deal with the inevitable violence I suspect that Jordan wants no part of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Arabs tried to topple the monarchy.

      It would seem the status quo will remain in effect for many years to come. After all, Gaza demonstrates just what Israel can expect if she completely exits parts of Judea and Samaria.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Valerie. | March 23, 2019 at 11:57 am

      All of the hostile palestinians should be driven out of the area around Israel, either into the ocean or Jordan. in one case they become fish food, in the other Jordan knows their nature and will likely use them as fertilizer.

    Barry in reply to broomhandle. | March 22, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    “I fear that…”

    Why? Are you politically schizo?

The US had better back Israel. At the moment, they are our only ally in the region. And, the US, under Obama actively sought to reduce our potential allies in the region even more; first with the withdrawal from Iraq, then with the Arab Spring speech, the deposing of Muammar Qaddafi, the attempt to depose the largely secular government of Syria and replace it with a government composed of Islamic radicals [courtesy of Saint John McCain] and finally with the payment to Iran to bolster the faltering regime there. Now, we have NO potential allies in the region, except Israel.

BierceAmbrose | March 22, 2019 at 7:11 pm

Ahem: Georgia? Crimea? Tibet? Maybe the former Yugoslavia by whatever names it’s going now: I don’t understand what went on there, but nobody does.

Myself, I wonder about this canonization of borders drawn on maps. At what point does forced inclusion in a “state” become imperialism? (I’ll take “Questions behind the US political tensions for $900.) What disagreements are legally sufficient for secession? (Yes, I’d like a follow-up. “Questions behind US and EU tensions for $1,000.”) When does enforcing the unwanted peace on people who’d rather die than remain become genocide by graning their wish?

Free greater Kurdistan, anybody? Of course, that would inspire additional noise in a region where we’d like less chaos, but is that how we’re deciding these things? Nothing in Crimea we really want; nothing in the region we can’t get whether Russia takes over or not, so whatever?

“Right” in grabbing territory seems to have to do mainly with how many tanks you have, and whether the judges want the whole thing left alone. It’s not that they have no principles, it’s that their “principles” are so old.