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Were Bibi's Golan comments a 'death blow' to peace?

The declaration by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel will hold on to the Golan Heights forever threatens any possibility of an agreement with the Palestinians and Arab states.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C front) poses with ministers prior to the weekly cabinet meeting in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Sebastian Scheiner/Pool - RTX2AB66

If words could move borders, the State of Israel would extend from the river of Egypt as far as the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. On April 17, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, standing on the Golan Heights, declared, “Golan was an integral part of the Land of Israel in ancient times [and therefore it is] an integral part of the Land of Israel in the modern era.” What proves that the Golan Heights belonged, and still belongs, to the State of Israel? “The dozens of ancient synagogues around us attest to this,” said the prime minister. Thus, Netanyahu added, “It’s time, after 50 years, that the international community finally recognizes the fact that the Golan will remain under Israeli sovereignty permanently.”

The world, as it proved rather quickly, does not recognize ancient synagogues as border markers and is not impressed by highly publicized meetings that the Israeli government conducts on foreign soil. Not only did Israel’s two best friends, the United States and Germany, not “finally” recognize the unilateral 1981 Israeli implementation of its law on the Golan Heights, their foreign ministries were quick to condemn Netanyahu’s declaration and to make clear that their position was and remains that the Golan annexation law and the establishment of settlements in the area constitute a violation of international law. The European Union’s November 2015 decision instructing member states to label settlement products also applies to products made on the Golan Heights. The same holds for the recent UN Human Rights Commission resolution calling for the compilation of a black list of companies operating in Israeli-occupied territories.

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