Arab countries are expected to condemn President Trump's recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, but - unlike the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital - the Golan isn't a holy site. It isn't very high on the Arab or Muslim agenda.
Trump's Golan Strategy - Elliot Kaufman
President Trump's decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights puts the Palestinians on notice. The fear is that if a U.S. president can tell Syria to forget returning to the pre-1967 borders, he can tell the Palestinians the same thing: Shape up and cease your intransigence, or America could let Israel annex parts of the West Bank, too.
The pre-1967 lines are no longer sacrosanct, and they never should have been. They merely reflect where armies stopped in 1949, when the Arab states failed to smother Israel in its infancy. The armistice established the borders "without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines."
The Trump strategy has been to back Israel and pressure the Palestinians into moderating their maximalist objectives. Palestinian leaders have long assumed time was on their side. The longer they held out and refused to make peace, the more the international community marginalized Israel and pressured it for further concessions. But if the Palestinians don't face reality, their own dreams of a state could be swept away.
(Wall Street Journal)
Israel's Sovereignty over Heights: Legal & Justified - Vivian Bercovici
An Israeli declaration of sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and American recognition of it, is not contrary to international law. Since World War II, the accepted understanding of international law that involves territorial loss during conflict is quite straightforward: the attacking nation may not retain permanently land acquired as a result of armed conflict.
We have heard a lot about how the Russian occupation of Crimea is indistinct from Israel's hold over the Golan. But Russia invaded Crimea; Crimea did not invade Russia. Syria attacked Israel in 1967; Israel did not attack Syria. International law only addresses the situation where the attacker, not the defender, conquers. Syria violated international law in 1967 and 1973 by attacking Israel without provocation.
The writer served as Canada's ambassador to Israel from 2014 to 2016.
U.S. Announcement Frees Israel from "Land for Peace" Formula
- Shmuel Rosner
President Trump announced that "it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights." Across the Israeli political spectrum, politicians are supportive of America recognizing Israel's control of the Golan Heights. It is the final nail in the coffin of the 1967 line - the armistice line that separated Israel from its neighbors before the Six-Day War.
The "land for peace" formulation has been a basis of all peace processes between Israel and Egypt, Syria and the Palestinians for the past five decades. Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula. But Israel's adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.
The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace - not land. Israelis agree on much more than many outside observers imagine. And one of the things they largely agree on is that the 1967 line is no longer relevant.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute.
(New York Times)
Aggression Shouldn't Be Cost-Free - Evelyn Gordon
The principle that territory can't be acquired through force, far from deterring aggression, actually rewards it. For an aggressor, starting a war becomes almost cost-free. If he wins, he achieves whatever goal he sought to achieve. And if he loses, the international community will pressure his victim to return any captured lands, thereby ensuring that he pays no territorial price.
After World War II, the Allies had no qualms about forcing Germany, the aggressor, to cede territory to its victims.
Claiming that Trump has just legitimized acts of aggression like Russia's seizure of Crimea is possible only under the warped interpretation of international law that makes no distinction between offensive and defensive wars. The Golan and Crimea are completely different cases because the former was acquired in a defensive war and the latter in an offensive one.
The claim that the decision undermines prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace is also wrong. Until now, every time the Palestinians rejected an Israeli peace offer, the international community rewarded them by demanding additional Israeli concessions. But now, Trump has shown that rejectionism carries a price. Trump is restoring the distinction that used to exist between offensive and defensive wars, thereby restoring international law to sanity.