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Eventually We Will Have To Withdraw From The Golan

Eventually We Will Have To Withdraw From The Golan

Translation By Sol Salbe
Middle East News Service

[Middle East News Service comment: When Ynet had an Arabic version it had an official policy of ensuring that the Arabic reader got to read what the Hebrew readers were getting. This went down to the level of re-translating Yasser Arafat’s speeches back to Arabic rather than using the original. The English language site seems to have the opposite policy of softening the message. While it may make commercial sense giving Diaspora Jews a slightly sanitised version what’s in Hebrew, it is doing them a disservice in the long run. In this particular example the heading in Hebrew and English were quite different reflecting the different audiences. Plocker is a mainstream commentator who may well have received some of his inspiration from vested political and/or military groups.

Needless to say I do not share Plocker’s attitude to the Palestinians but I think his message on Syria deserved to be read. Many thanks to Zvi Solow who sent me the original Hebrew from Israel. He pointed out that while it may be psychologically difficult, the 7000 Golan settlers are the practical not fanatical types. Therefore that task may not be onerous –Sol Salbe.]

(Hebrew variations in translation in italics)

Eventually we will have to withdraw from the Golan

Before we reject Assad out of hand let’s remember we have no spare children for unnecessary wars
'No' to Hamas; 'Yes' to Syria

Israel should concentrate efforts on striking deal with Assad

Sever Plocker

Israel has been holding on to the Golan Heights, occupied Syrian territory, since June 1967. Syrian sovereignty over most of the Golan was not annulled or wakened as a result of unilateral Israeli legislation.

That is the essential difference between Judea and Samaria and the Golan. Jordan voluntarily renounced its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and since then at least part of the area has been earmarked for a future Palestinian state. At present, this land belongs to nobody and is under the joint control of Israel and the national Palestinian Authority. The Golan Heights are different: Nobody in the whole world recognizes or supports Israel's claim of sovereignty over it. Therefore, it is only a matter of time and circumstance until Israel withdraws from the Golan, as it did from other occupied areas.

According to leading Israeli security officials as well as past and present top military commanders, the biggest failure of Israeli policy in the last decade was missing out on the opportunity to reach a peace deal with Syria.

The fundamentals of such deal were formulated a while ago, with the agreement of both sides, and are kept in secret vaults. Most practical disagreements have already been settled. The matters under contention from the depth of the demilitarised zones, the allocation of water resources all the way to the operation of industrial tourism site have all been agreed upon; and now all that is left is to resolve the debate over a very narrow strip of land across part of the Sea of Galilee's northern shore. Israel and Syria hold on to clashing stances on the issue, but those can be bridged through creative geo-political solutions.

However, no government in Israel had the courage to face the people and announce: We're withdrawing from the Golan in exchange for peace and full normalization. Moreover, Israeli media reports of peace talks with Syria always stressed Syrian coldness and top Syrian officials recoiling over the prospect of exchanging hugs and friendly slaps with the Israelis in the open.

The policy of running away from peace with Damascus is currently facing yet another fateful test. President Bashar Assad, who internalized the lessons of Hizbullah's defeat in the second Lebanon war, is begging to launch talks on a withdrawal in exchange for peace. At the same time, he warns that should dialogue fail to materialize, he will have no choice but to go to war for the Golan.

Such war would lead to numerous victims and expose the Israeli home front to missile attacks. There's no doubt the IDF will win, and there's also no doubt that by war's end Israel will have to withdraw from the entire Golan Heights, in the face of global pressure. The outcome then is already known, [but] only the price is still unknown.

Syrian option realistic

Israel's defense leadership is united today in its recommendation to quickly reach a comprehensive peace agreement with Syria. The strategic advantages inherent in such deal are clear: Severing the Syrian-Iranian alliance, eliminating Hamas and Jihad headquarters in Damascus, and curbing the flow of weapons from Syria to Hizbullah. Most importantly, such deal would bring another Arab states, from the rejectionist block no less, into the list of Muslim countries that recognize Israel and maintain diplomatic and trade ties with it.

The current Israeli government – a perplexed government that has lost its bearings – has nothing to seek in talks with Hamas, as long as this organization has failed to meet the three conditions set forth by the international community. This government also has nothing to gain nothing through talks with Saudi officials, who many Israelis have met before without any practical diplomatic results.

In the current Middle East, which is embroiled in conflict, comprehensive peace initiatives such as the "Saudi Initiative" are merely pipedreams. The Syrian option, on the other hand, is realistic. It certainly is better than unilateral withdrawals that end in disaster.

So before Prime Minister Olmert dismisses Syria's peace gestures and foolishly declares that the Golan is "an inseparable part of Israel," he should take into account the fact we can spare no children for needless wars.


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