Trump koshers Nazi theft of Syria’s Golan Heights


Trump koshers Israel’s theft of Syria’s Golan Heights

Trump sanctions Golan theft

Eve Mykytyn writes:

On 21 March President Trump announced that the United States should recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and effectively annexed it in 1981. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journalcharacterised Trump’s move as a favour to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who is facing a challenge for re-election and Netanyahu called it a “Purim miracle”.
Despite any boost this may give to Netanyahu’s re-election, the effort to persuade Trump to endorse Israel’s claim to the Golan began well before Netanyahu’s campaign and was described by Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz as “topping the agenda” in US-Israeli diplomatic talks in May 2018.

Violation of international law

Trump’s announcement contravenes a 1981 UN resolution passed in reaction to the annexation and co-written by the United States. It says:

The Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.

At least at the moment, the US recognition is unlikely to change the European Union’s or Russia’s support for the UN resolution, and both have announced that they would not change their positions on the Golan Heights without a UN declaration. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, tweeting from a meeting at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said all the ministers were shocked by Trump “continuing to try to give what is not his to racist Israel: first Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and now Golan”.
It is unclear how Trump’s Twitter declaration on its own can change the US’s official position on Golan. But his avowal may soon be law. Senators Cruz and Cotton, along with Representative Mike Gallagher, who each applauded the president’s move, introduced legislation in the House and Senate to formally “recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights”. Importantly, the proposed bill includes the Golan Heights as part of Israel in any spending and trade bills and approves joint scientific, industrial and agricultural projects in the occupied territory.

Water, oil and political connections

Since 1981 Israel has treated the Golan as a resource-rich part of its country. The Golan provides over a third of Israel’s fresh water. More pertinently, the Golan has provided Israel’s first major oil find. Afek Oil and Gas, a division of Genie Oil, has obtained oil rights for the huge oil fields in the Golan Heights. In October 2015 Afek Oil and Gas confirmed the discovery of vast oil reserve in the Golan Heights. Genie Oil has powerful political connections. Keith Murdock, Vice President Cheney, Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild and Larry Summers are among its board members.

“Genie Energy’s investments in the Golan are likely the strongest factor pushing the US towards the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territory.”
Russia Today TV channel

Despite Genie’s influence, under current conditions Genie’s Israeli subsidiary cannot sell any oil it extracts from the Golan on the international oil market because that would violate UN resolutions. However, if Washington declares the Golan to be part of Israel, then oil could be legally traded with the US. Russia Today TV channel speculates that “Genie Energy’s investments in the Golan are likely the strongest factor pushing the US towards the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territory”.

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