Articles > > THREE JUSTIFICATIONS

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-03-24
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

We will consider three of the justifications offered by Trump and those who eagerly support the U.S.'s recognition of the Golan Heights' annexation and placing them under Israeli sovereignty – of whom [U.S. Peace Envoy] Jason Greenblatt may be one of the most prominent.
 
First, there is the notion that peace should be based on the facts; i.e. 'facts on the ground.' Second, there is the need to confront Iran and its regional allies, especially Hezbollah. And third, there is the notion of a 'secure peace', where security is primarily – not to say exclusively – that of Israel. 
 
-The facts on the ground in the Golan Heights indicate that half of the Heights' current population is made up of settlers who have been implanted there by successive governments even before Israel's December 1981 decision to annex the Heights. And the facts, as seen by Mike Pompeo, call for 'loyalty to the Israeli Defense Forces' heroics and sacrifices' in the successive Golan wars – as he also put it.

- Confronting Iran also calls for recognizing Israel's sovereignty over this strategic plateau so as to ensure that it does not fall into [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander] General Qassem Soleimani's hands. This is what David Pollock argued in a program that hosted him, alongside myself, on [the U.S.-sponsored Arabic language] al-Hurra TV. Israel came to understand the importance of that point in the American right's thinking, and it consequently rushed to announce the dismantlement of a Hezbollah network in the Golan Heights before Pompeo arrived in the region in a fabricated step taken for mere show and whose implications are transparent.
 
- Israel's security doctrine calls for clinging to secure and 'defensible' borders, which is a very elastic expression of Israel's vital security space that has only expanded in the era of missile and pilotless drones. And this allows Israel to intervene in Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey's defense strategies, as well as all the other Arab countries. From this perspective, the Golan Heights' annexation, followed by recognition of Israel's sovereignty, seems more like a mere matter of detail.
What can we glean from analyzing these justifications and arguments?
 
The number of settlers in the West Bank is now almost 30% of the area's indigenous population. Here, Greenblatt's 'theory' requires that these 'facts' be taken into consideration as well. Moreover, the Israeli army has fought on the West Bank and made 'sacrifices' since the1967 occupation at least to the same extent that it has fought and sacrificed on the Golan Heights – in line with Pompeo's justifications. Furthermore, the West Bank's strategic and religious (biblical) significance exceeds that of the Golan Heights. Therefore, the 'outside the box' thinking that the Trump administration is famous for leads us to conclude that those who decided to annex the Golan Heights will also decide to annex the West Bank, and for the same or even deeper reasons.
 
The Israelis argue that their withdrawal from the West Bank or their consent to a Palestinian state or entity there will increase the probability that Iran will control Israel's 'soft underbelly' via Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They do not want Qassem Soleimani on the Golan Heights and they will most likely not take the risk of seeing him cross the Karama/King-Hussein/Allenby Bridge into the West Bank.
 
That by itself is sufficient and convincing reason for the Trump administration to go easy on Israel's settlement expansion and to destroy any prospects of establishing a viable Palestinian state. And it is most likely to provide 'strong' justification for annexing the West Bank and recognizing it when the moment of truth arrives.
 
The Golan Heights are not the whole of Syria, but the West Bank is all that remains of Palestine. And the people of the Golan Heights are just a small constituent of the Syrian people, whereas the people of the West Bank constitute the major part of the long-awaited Palestinian state's population. And the Syrian regime is isolated and supported only by a handful of the world's countries, whereas only a handful of the world's countries are hostile to the PLO and PA.
 
Therefore, the decision to annex the West Bank will assume different forms, perhaps less crude than that of the Golan Heights. A return to the idea of 'autonomy for the inhabitants' that Begin proposed to Sadat at the [1978] Camp David negotiations and afterwards may be the basis for the decision to annex the West Bank. The land will be under Israeli sovereignty, while the inhabitants will enjoy an 'autonomy-plus' regime– but one that does not prevent them from being crowded into Bantustans, depriving them of the freedom to choose where to live inside the West Bank itself, and specifically in Jerusalem and its surroundings.
 
Read well what Kushner said about the deal of the century, especially the fact that he did not mention a Palestinian state or the right to self-determination. And scrutinize [U.S. ambassador to Israel] Friedman's statements in which he has denied that such a state is one of the deal's constituents.
 
We are heading – or rather 'returning' – to the late 1970s, when the Sadat-Begin negotiations were underway regarding autonomy for the [West Bank's] inhabitants. Anyone who doubts this should contemplate the arrogance with which Washington is offering its justifications for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.