Gifting Golan Heights

Photo Source: Al Jazeera

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, GlobeUpFront

For pleasing his political lobby and sympathisers in American politics, Trump went ahead and fully recognised Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights on 25th, March, 2019. Trump signed a decree, with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main Israeli lobby in the United States.

A strategy to win a re-election, perhaps, his decision actually supports Israel’s 1981 annexation of this piece of land, when Israeli law was instituted in the territory.

The event also took place, as a reaction, against Democratic House Representative Ilhan Omar’s comments, that criticised the lobby. There was a decision by many Democratic presidential candidates to boycott it.

As per inputs by Al Jazeera: “Trump and members of his administration took the opportunity to attack the Democratic Party, with Vice President Mike Pence rebuking the Democratic party for being afraid to stand with the strongest supporters of Israel in America.”

American President, Donald Trump thinks that Democrats have turned anti Jewish and anti-Israel, quite lately. His close associates are calling it “Jexodus” – the exile of American Jews from the Democratic camp. Although, Jews make up only 3 percent of American vote, gifting Golan heights is seen as a strategy, mainly to please his Evangelical Christian supporters, that makeup 25 per cent of the American population.

The polls at CNN reflected a somewhat chaotic and divided scenario. 71 percent of Democratic respondents opposed the US moving its embassy, from Jerusalem, while 79 per cent of Republican candidates approved.

This is not the first time Trump signed a provocative deal with the Israelis, or initiated a policy that goes against the aspirations of Palestinians.

In 2017, Trump recognised Jerusalem, as the official city in Israel, despite 1993 Israel-Palestine peace accords, where final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed, in the latter stages of peace talks. In 2017, UN member votes voted decisively in favour of American recognition of Jerusalem as ‘null and void’. Due to 2018 Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), Palestinian Authority can no longer accept U.S aid, forcing USAID and US NGO’s to leave Gaza and West Bank, in dismay. He also announced a closure of PLO office in September 2018.

In a New York Times oped, Mark Landler and Edward Wong believe that these political moves speak of ‘diplomatic orthodoxy’ and to ‘shake up political moves that have remained unchanged since the 1970s’.

Trump also closed the US consulate general in Jerusalem, which covered Palestinian affairs. A Palestinian official had called it ‘a last nail in the coffin of the US administration’s role in peacemaking’.

Despite affecting the regional stability in the Middle East Muslim countries, these stances have won him a rising popularity among far-right Israelis. According to a survey done by Pew Research centre, his popularity among Israelis has jumped from 56 per cent in 2017, to 69 per cent in 2019.

The Arab Parliament has rejected Trump’s recognition of Golan Heights, as they believe that it is originally part of Syria that has been under Israeli military occupation, since a Six Day war of 1967.

Arab Parliament’s public speaker, Al-Salami considered the move as a flagrant violation of UN General Assembly resolution 242, and insists on withdrawal of Israel from the territories, occupied in 1967, including the Golan.

He said: “legitimisation of the Israeli occupation, is the new orientation of the U.S Policy, which has become fully compatible with the positions and desires of Israel.”

UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric also reacted: “It is clear that the status of the Golan has not changed. The UN’s policy on the Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and the policy has not changed.”

In fact, the resurgence of Trump-Netanyahu alliance is putting Arab allies of Washington in a difficult position, as these biased pacts, motivated by biblical interpretations, favouring a hegemonic Zionist policy, in the Middle East, have been angering the Arab public, time and again.

In today’s time, most of the 26,000 members of the Druze community, in the Golan Heights, have also refused their integration into the Israeli state, and, nearly, all of them, boycotted Israel’s attempt to hold any municipal election in the territory, since October 2018.

There are about 20,000 Israeli settlers living in the Golan Heights, and UN peacekeepers have been stationed in the region, for decades.

For Lebanon, however, the Shebaa Farms, and the adjacent Kfar Chouba hills, the small patches of land captured by Israel from Syria, are part of the Lebanese nation. Michel Aoun, during a press conference, condemned the decision. Hezbollah, the Shiite extremist political group, also denounced Trump’s decision, stating that similar stances on the West Bank could follow.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has also followed with a strong statement: “no one could imagine that a person in America comes and gives land to another nation to another occupying country, against international laws and conventions. Such action is unprecedented in the current century.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskoy said: “such decisions, undoubtedly have negative consequences from the point of view of a settlement in the Middle East, and the general atmosphere of a political settlement in Syria.”

Even Canada, Australia, Turkey and the other Gulf States such as Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, all allies of Washington, have rejected this deal.

All these worldwide condemnations against American policies, haven’t, largely, stirred a change of heart in the American political lobby, as of now. Their policies will probably remain the same, in the near future, as well.

Americans have been promoting hegemony of minority Jewish elites, inside the US, for a while now, perhaps under the guise of “doing God’s work”, with an economic stipend of $3 billion economic aid every year. It also means that US’s support of Israel is more of a strategic American approach, and less of a geopolitical approach, due to the level of cooperation, both countries share with each other.

But, it also speaks of the lip service to bring universal world peace, and the two fold policies, of emancipating their citizens internally, while allowing the triumphalism to oppress people of other nations, by endorsing wars, genocides, and several unprincipled policies, which will, perhaps, be the most controversial approach, ever followed by a nation, claiming to be a bastion of civil rights and democracy.


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