An Iron Dome anti-missile system is seen near the border area between Israel and Syria, in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Picture: Hamad Almakt/Reuters
An Iron Dome anti-missile system is seen near the border area between Israel and Syria, in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Picture: Hamad Almakt/Reuters

Israel’s defiance of the UN ruling on Golan Heights is reinforced by the USA

By Opinion Time of article published Nov 24, 2020

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By Reneva Fourie

Syrians were still mourning the loss of their Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Walid al-Moallem, who had passed on in the early hours of Monday morning, November 16, when the sounds of explosions reverberated through Damascus on Wednesday, November 18, slightly after 3 am.

The strikes, which form part of regular attacks by the Israeli government on Syria, in what they regard as pre-emptive measures, killed three and injured one.

This time, the reason given for the attack was that they had discovered improvised explosive devices planted in the Golan Heights, an area in Syria, which they had illegally annexed.

The attack could also serve as a message from the government of Israel to the Syrians that the change in administration in the USA does not imply a de-escalation of their aggression. It took place just hours after a telephone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, and USA President-elect Joe Biden.

Netanyahu’s office thereafter reported that, “In a warm conversation, the President-elect reiterated his deep commitment to the State of Israel and its security. … Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the special bond between Israel and the US is a fundamental component of Israel’s security and its policy. The two agreed to meet soon in order to discuss the many issues on the agenda and reiterated the need to continue bolstering the steadfast alliance between the US and Israel.”

The attack also took place a day before the visit of USA Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo to the Golan Heights, him having arrived in Israel on an official visit on the same day as the strikes.

This visit, which was not condemned by Biden, confirmed the USA’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the territory, the only country in the world to do so, despite the international community regarding it as occupied Syrian territory.

Israel captured parts of the Golan Heights in 1967 and later annexed most of it and maintained a strong military presence regardless of regular protests by the people of the area, and the United Nations, in 1981, declaring any Israeli jurisdiction over the Golan Heights as “null and void and without international legal effect” as per the UN Security Council Resolution 497.

Punitive measures against Israel for defying this resolution has consistently been vetoed by the USA and in March 2019, the Trump administration formally affirmed the Golan Heights as part of the “state” of Israel.

As an expression of appreciation for this gesture, the Israeli government proceeded with plans to establish a new community settlement in the Golan Heights called Trump Heights, the budget for which was approved in July 2020.

This lethal alliance between the Israeli government and the USA in defiance of international laws pertaining to developments in West Asia, has a long and deep history. One of the more contemporary, glaring examples thereof is however the announcement of Jerusalem as the capital of the “state” of Israel.

This gesture forced the UN to issue a statement reaffirming Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 252 (1968), 267 (1969), 298 (1971), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), and 2334 (2016), and adopting resolution A/RES/72/15 (2017), which states that it

“Affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to resolution 478 (1980) of the Security Council”

Another current example is the Trump “Peace plan” or “Deal of the century”. Should the implementation of this plan, which violates international humanitarian law, the United Nations Charter and the Rome Statute, proceed, it will among others, displace about seventy thousand Palestinians; result in a loss approximately 50 percent of agricultural land in the West Bank and 60 percent of revenue generated from produce; and remove Palestinian control of 170 million cubic litres of water.

Last week, Pompeo, as well known, also upset many when he unilaterally, and once against international decisions, issued guidelines for Israeli products made in settlements to be labelled “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel” when exported to the United States, removing the distinction between goods made within Israel and those produced in occupied territory.

While the world is looking forward to a more progressive foreign policy from the Biden administration, it has already had a very grim start in the Middle East. We can only hope that this tone will not continue in the forthcoming years.

* Reneva Fourie is a policy analyst specialising in governance, development and security, currently living in Damascus, Syria.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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