(December 18, 2018 / JNS) Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are planning to introduce a Senate resolution on Tuesday urging the United States to formally recognize Israeli control of the Golan Heights.
Jewish Insider first reported this development.
The outlet reported that the resolution states that “Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights is critical to Israel’s national security,” and that “Israel’s security from attack from Syria and Lebanon cannot be assured without Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
“It is in the United States’ national security interest to ensure that the [Bashar] Assad regime faces diplomatic and geopolitical consequences for the killing of civilians, the ethnic cleansing of Syrian Sunnis and the use of weapons of mass destruction,” it adds.
“Israel’s northern border is threatened by Iranian forces and their proxies in Lebanon and Syria, including Hezbollah’s 150,000 rockets, armed drones, newly discovered terror tunnels and more,” said Cruz and Cotton in a joint statement released by their offices. “Meanwhile, with the Ayatollahs’ help, Bashar al-Assad’s regime is on the verge of securing victory in Syria’s civil war. He may soon turn his attention back to threatening the Jewish state.”
“Israel gained possession over the Golan Heights in a defensive war over 50 years ago and has responsibly controlled the area ever since,” they added. “It’s past time for the United States to recognize reality by affirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
“Protecting the Syrian interest on the Golan Heights means protecting the Iranian interest,” former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold told JNS. “Does anyone seriously want to do that? Besides the Golan has been in Israeli hands many more years than it was in Syrian hands. The time to recognize our sovereignty has come.”
Groups such as the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) have advocated for this U.S. acknowledgment.
“U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is an issue that is critical to the national security interests of the United States of America,” EMET founder and president Sarah Stern told JNS. “Largely because of President [Barack] Obama’s failure to enforce his red lines, Syria has become a failed state, and because of this vacuum that has been left over by the previous administration, Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces have swooped in to fill the void.”
“U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan is particularly important because Iranian backed forces, including the IRGC and Hezbollah, are attempting to dominate the region and form a land bridge from Tehran all the way to the Mediterranean Sea,” she continued. “By having American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, we are sending a strong message to Tehran that their hegemonic aspirations must not go on unchallenged.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has not taken a position on the resolution, “but given current political and security circumstances in Syria, it is inconceivable to imagine Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights,” a spokesperson told JNS.
However, Washington-based geopolitical strategist and diplomacy consultant John Sitilides told JNS that this move is unnecessary considering Israel’s control of the Golan and the backlash Israel could receive were there to be such a recognition.
“Israel has been skillfully capable of controlling the Golan and defending its own national sovereignty and recognized borders, even against terror organizations and nation-states, without annexing the region,” he said. “Optimally, any change of sovereign borders in the aftermath of war and military occupation should involve and be approved by the disputing nations. This is an ill-timed and unproductive measure that may compel Israel’s closest Western allies to forsake it for the sake of international law and treaties.”
But according to Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “U.S. recognition of Israel’s claims to the Golan is a recognition of reality.”
“In this sense, the move is long overdue,” he told JNS. “The Israelis will no longer consider ceding control of the Golan Heights to Syria now that the country effectively ceases to exist. Indeed, Israelis today cringe at the notion that their government might have made a deal with Bashar al-Assad.”
Nonetheless, he cautioned about possible negative ramifications behind a possible move by the United States, saying “after the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, after it undermined the UNRWA narrative, and perhaps now, recognizing the Golan, Israel could be asked to acknowledge all that it has received and show flexibility to accommodate Trump’s peace plan. From the Israeli perspective, this could be the only real downside of a possible Golan move on the part of the administration.”