The Syrian conflict involves many nations, a dictator, terrorists, and rebels. But somehow Israel is being expected to make a major sacrifice as part of a peace deal that will end the civil war in their neighbor to the north by giving up the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphatically told the leader of Russia—and Syria’s most powerful ally—that sacrifice won’t be happening. And the Israeli leader called that discussion “successful”—but was the Golan ultimatum the successful part of the talk or was it something else?
In comments published by the Kremlin’s website, Netanyahu told Putin, “Regarding the Golan Heights, we cannot go back to the days when our villages and our children came under fire from there. Therefore, with or without an agreement, the Golan Heights will remain part of Israel’s sovereign territory.”
He also said that preventing “a new terror front” from the Golan and Hezbollah terrorists obtaining advanced weaponry are “red lines” for Israel. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that Hezbollah does not get its hands on the ultramodern weapons coming in from Syria and Iraq,” the Kremlin website quoted Netanyahu as saying.
However, that wasn’t all they discussed, and the rest of the conversation was what Netanyahu highlighted in his office’s press statement, raising questions about Putin’s response to Israel’s red lines—which didn’t appear in the Kremlin post or the Israeli statement.
“I am coming now from a very important and successful meeting with President [Vladimir] Putin. I defined the goal as strengthening security coordination between Russia and Israel so as to avoid mishaps,” said Netanyahu in a press statement from his office. He said key players in the Israeli and Russian militaries would meet to coordinate and discuss “several other issues that have recently arisen,” but the Golan element was not explicitly mentioned.
The Golan Heights border Israel and Syria and were controlled by Syria at the start of the 1967 Israel-Arab war. The Israelis obtained the Golan from the conflict and haven’t surrendered it since, although Syria has long desired to retake the heights, which are a pivotal defensive boundary between the long-time enemies.
Now the Golan is again front and center. The Jerusalem Post has reported that an initial draft of a United Nations peace agreement for Syria calls for Israel to give the territory to Syria.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 21, 2016)