TEL AVIV — On Thursday, President Donald Trump proclaimed that the time has come for America to “fully recognize” Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The announcement marked a monumental shift in U.S. policy that could help ensure Israel’s security into the future.
According to reports, Trump is expected to enshrine this position in an official declaration recognizing Israeli control over the Golan as soon this coming week during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled visit to Washington.
Below, in no particular order, are five major reasons Trump’s decision on the Golan Heights is the correct one.
1 – Maintaining the Golan Heights is essential for protecting Israeli security. Relinquishing the territory – used three times to mount ground invasions into Israel — would precipitate an existential threat to the Jewish state.
The Golan Heights is strategic, mountainous territory that looks down on Israel’s main population centers. It was thrice used by Syria to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state – in 1948; during the 1967 Six-Day War; and again during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Israel captured the Israeli sections of the Golan Heights from Syria as a result of the unprovoked Six-Dar War and essentially annexed the territory in 1981 by applying Israeli law there. Syria temporarily overran sections of the Golan Heights in the 1973 war but they were ultimately repulsed in what amounted to a failed attempt to destroy Israel.
As Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli attaché to Washington, correctly notes at Israel’s Ariel Center for Policy Research:
The importance of the Golan Heights to Israel’s national security hinges on the eastern mountain ridge, stretching between Mount Hermon in the north and the steep canyon of the Rokad River in the south, which constitutes a most effective natural tank barrier. The control of this mountain ridge enabled 177 Israeli tanks to fend off the surprise offensive of 1,400 Syrian tanks during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. A withdrawal from that natural tank barrier would deny Israel the key strategic benefit of the Golan Heights, exposing the Jewish state to lethal threats. A withdrawal from that mountain ridge, which is located 35 miles from Damascus, would deprive Israel of a most effective posture of deterrence, which would induce further hostilities in the region.
The Coalition for the Israeli Golan documents:
The State of Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after years of incessant attacks on Israeli communities surrounding the Sea of Galilee and close to the border. The Golan Heights, being a strategic control point, was, for years, a region frequently used by the Syrians to threaten the State of Israel and its strategically important sites, such as the Haifa Port.
…Furthermore, during the 20 years of Syria’s control over the Golan, and as a country that supports terror, Syria allowed terrorist organizations to use the topographical advantage of the Golan Heights as a base for exporting and launching terrorist attacks against Israel. Israel’s seizure of the Golan Heights was done in self-defense, to ensure the security of the State of Israel and of its residents and to remove an existential threat.
2 – Syria is a failed state that constitutes a direct threat to Israel.
Syria has been destabilized by the years-long civil war there and Iran managed to gain a significant foothold in the country. The unstable, dictatorial regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria cannot be trusted with the Golan Heights. Assad is not even in a position to effectively govern his own failed state. Any Israeli forfeiture could be utilized by Assad’s Iranian sponsors to directly attack the Jewish state.
Trump’s declaration about the Golan Heights last week came the same day Jews worldwide celebrated the holiday of Purim, which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from destruction at the hands of biblical Haman under the ancient Persian Empire.
3 – Israeli control of the Golan Heights advances U.S. security in the region.
As a key U.S. ally, Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights serves as a pro-Western anchor to ensure against Iranian, Syrian and Russian designs in the area. Besides Iran, Russia is the other main powerbroker in Syria, where Moscow maintains major military installations including its massive naval facility in Tartus and the Khmeimim, Tiyas and Shayrat airbases.
4 – Outside control of the Golan Heights could threaten Israel’s water supply.
The Golan Heights rests atop the Sea of Galilee and Lake Tiberius, with the Galilee serving as the source of one-third Israel’s water supply. While it controlled the Golan Heights from 1948 to 1967, Syria took action to prevent Israel from water development projects and attempted to divert critical water sources from the Golan with the goal of denying Israel its much needed water supply.
5 – Jews have long been connected to the Golan Heights — territory that is steeped in Jewish history.
Israel has maintained the territory longer than the brief 19 years that it was under Syrian control from 1948 to 1967. Before that, the Golan was variously controlled by the French and British mandates and by Turkey.
After the modern state of Israel was founded in 1948, tens of thousands of acres of land in the Golan Heights was seized from Jewish associations which had purchased the land in the late 19th century.
The Golan Heights is steeped in Jewish history.
This reporter previously gave an account of the Jewish historic and biblical connections to the Golan Heights:
The book of Joshua relates how the Golan was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh. Later, during the time of the First Temple, King Solomon appointed three ministers in the region, and the area became contested between the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus. The book of Kings relates how King Ahab of Israel defeated Ben-Hadad I of Damascus near the present-day site of Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan, and the prophet Elisha foretold that King Jehoash of Israel would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik.
The online Jewish Virtual Library has an account of how in the late 6th and 5th centuries B.C., the Golan was settled by Jewish exiles returning from Babylonia, or modern day Iraq. In the mid-2nd century B.C., Judah Maccabee’s grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannai, added the Golan Heights to his kingdom.
The Golan hosted some of the most important houses of Torah study in the years following the Second Temple’s destruction and subsequent Jewish exile; some of Judaism’s most revered ancient rabbis are buried in the territory. The remains of some 25 synagogues from the period between the Jewish revolt and the Islamic conquest in 636 have been excavated. The Golan is also dotted with ancient Jewish villages.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.