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Why US recognition of Golan Heights annexation would hurt Israel

The US-backed campaign for recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights could become a real obstacle on the way to peace with Syria.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz recently spearheaded efforts in Congress to advance US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Unlike the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem — which was significant for Israel even if it came at a price — this is just a meaningless gesture that will be of no significance when Israel holds peace talks with the Syrians. On the other hand, the potential damage posed by such a move would be immediate. There would be boycotts, condemnation in the Arab world and a very discernible attempt by the West to prove that it rejects the US initiative. It would make more sense for Benjamin Netanyahu's government to attempt to achieve a more dramatic decision from the current administration, which is already very supportive of the Israeli right. This could be a defense treaty with Israel, for instance, instead of the misguided support that the United States is giving Israel now.

The Golan Heights returned to the headlines after the Syrian front heated up again, with Iranian forces firing rockets at Israel at the beginning of May. This is attributed to the presence of the Syrian army, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and various Iranian militias, along with the — very temporary apparently — presence of the US military and the ongoing involvement of Hezbollah in fighting in the region. Actually, the Golan Heights has been on the decision-makers’ table ever since Israel first seized the territory from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. As an Israeli who fought in the war over the Golan Heights, I feel an attachment to it, but nevertheless am ready to withdraw in order to enable full normalization of ties with the Arab world, based on the 2002 Arab Peace initiative.

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