How they see us: Recognizing Israel’s Golan annexation
When President Donald Trump moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to “occupied Jerusalem” last year, “he tore up the international rule book,” said Jonathan Cook in The National (United Arab Emirates). Now he has set its shredded remains on fire. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side, Trump signed a proclamation this week recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights—a 500-square-mile plateau that Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel expelled 130,000 Syrians from the Golan and annexed the territory 14 years later. Until now, no country has recognized this act of theft and “ethnic cleansing.” But with Netanyahu facing corruption indictments and a serious challenge in the April 9 election from the new Blue and White party, Trump decided to help out his ally and blow up the global consensus. What’s next? Will the president sign off on Israel’s illegal takeover of the West Bank?
Yes, this decision will boost Netanyahu’s election chances, said The Jerusalem Post (Israel) in an editorial. But because the Golan Heights is “absolutely necessary for Israel’s long-term national security,” Trump’s recognition “is supported by a consensus of nearly the entire political spectrum in Israel.” If we had given up the Golan as the world wanted, Iran—a key sponsor of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad—would today have missiles and men stationed across the Golan, “threatening us from the high ground overlooking much of Israel’s north.” Thank you, President Trump, for having the courage to buck diplomatic convention and “state the obvious.” The question now is what Trump wants in return, said Orly Azoulay in Yedioth Ahronoth (Israel). The U.S. president has so far granted Bibi three of his wishes: Killing the Iran nuclear deal, moving the U.S. Embassy, and recognizing the Golan as Israel’s. For this, Trump, with his dreams of a Nobel Prize, will demand that Netanyahu support his “deal of the century” to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians. If Netanyahu is re-elected, Trump will expect him to get the Palestinians back to the table—possibly with concessions, such as ceding control of parts of Jerusalem, that will be very bitter to Bibi’s base.
The whole world will pay a price for Trump’s flouting of international law, said Baria Alamuddin in Arab News (Saudi Arabia). Since the end of World War II, nations have obeyed the simple principle that land acquired through war cannot be annexed. That rule helped turn a page on millennia “in which victory went to the bloodiest and mightiest: Hitler, Napoleon, imperialist Europeans, or the Mongol invaders.” By jettisoning the rule for the Golan, the U.S. has abandoned its right to protest Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and Beijing’s expansion in the South China Sea. Others may soon decide to get into the land-grab game. “When we fail to enforce international justice, the consequences may come back to haunt us sooner than we could possibly imagine.” ■