Analysis: Rays of hope in US Golan policy

Washington’s more favorable policy toward Israel’s presence on the Golan offers a window of opportunity for it to gain more international support for its control of the strategic heights. 

By Daniel Krygier, World Israel News

Earlier this month (Nov. 16), Washington voted for the first time against a U.N. resolution demanding Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. “The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said in a statement.

It’s a welcome change in American policy.

In the past, America refrained from either condemning or recognizing Israel’s control of Golan. By contrast, this time, the U.S. loudly announced in advance that it intended to vote against the anti-Israel Golan resolution. Haley blasted it as “biased against Israel.”

The U.S. and Israel were the only two countries voting against the resolution which passed 151-2.  Despite the Golan being under Israeli control longer than under Syrian, most of the international community rejects Israeli sovereignty there.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the American support and stated that Golan, which Syria lost in the Six Day War, will stay forever a part of Israel. 

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The strategically crucial Golan Heights, which Israel annexed, remains important for Israel’s security. In the past, Syrian forces on the heights threatened Israel’s Sea of Galilee and much of northern Israel.  The Syrian military threat has since been replaced with Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria.

Today, Israeli forces on the Golan have a commanding view of much of western Syria all the way to the Syrian capital Damascus.

In the post-Obama era, vital U.S. national interests in the Middle East have largely converged with Israel’s interests. Like Jerusalem, Washington seeks to end Iran’s imperial aggression throughout the Middle East and beyond.

In this context, Israel and the Golan Heights constitute the most powerful barrier preventing Iran from establishing an ayatollah-ruled Islamist empire stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.

While Israel is divided on the future of Judea and Samaria, there is an overwhelming Israeli consensus that the Golan must remain under Israel’s control. This coupled with a friendly administration in Washington, should push Jerusalem towards policies that secure greater international recognition of Israel’s permanent control over the Golan Heights.