Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Will Israel Trade the Golan Heights for Peace with Syria?

BBC: Israel ready to return Golan Heights to Syria

The Golan Heights is an a mountainous region in north east Israel that the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Six Day War from Syria and successfully defended in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. A portion of the land was returned to Syria in later years.

There has long been talk of eventual Israeli return of the land to Syrian control in exchange for peace. Indirect talks mediated by Turkey have picked up pace recently.

Recent events
There have been several recent events that are very interesting.
1. The bombing of Syria’s supposed nuclear reactor
2. North Korean nuclear progress
3. Congressional briefing on possible Syrian-North Korean nuclear ties
4. Syrian military on alert
5. Israeli military on alert
6. The assassination of Imad Mughniyeh

Last September, Israeli jets bombed a building in Syria. The event was completely surrounded in mystery, with many leaks and sources pointing to the conclusion that the building was a nuclear facility. Other facts indicated Syria got this technology from North Korea. A select group of Congressional officials is being briefed on that possibility today, with all leaks saying the answer was yes.

Months later, Imad Mughniyeh, a top ranking Hezbollah official, was assassinated. The likely culprit: Israel. Then, even more recently, both the Israeli and Syrian militaries were put on alert. Some analysts believed Israel was watching for a Hezbollah assassination, and Syria was just being careful. More interestingly, rumors swirled about another Israel-Syria war.

Was this Israel’s attempt at preventing a conflict? Prime Minister Olmert already suffered through one unpopular war in Lebanon in 2006; it’s unlikely he’d survive another war.

Anyway, where does Syria’s nuclear reactor fit in? Well, the timing of the briefing and of Israel’s extension of the olive branch cannot be any coincidence. Syria could be forgiven for its nuclear crime as part of the deal.

What should we do now?
Israeli return of the Golan Heights for peace does not sound like a bad idea for either side. If Israel can juice the thing for everything its worth, I’m sure we could convince Syria to disassociate itself with Iran, or to some degree.


Collin Williams said...

We should back off and let Israel hammer the rest of the middle east for a few thousands years... call it retribution.


Jeff said...

Iran and Syria are not a natural alliance. It's often an overlooked point, but you seem to infer it.

Bashar's father, Hafiz, was seeking to sign a peace agreement with Israel in-tandem with Egypt during the late 70's. When Egypt ultimately agreed to a peace deal with Israel on its own, the Syrian leader chose to start tapping connections with Iran. Soon after, cooperation between the two nations initiated.

Take away the enemy and the alliance is not so rock solid. Although, the United States posture towards Syria might simply supplant Israel if tensions were to ease from the transfer of the Golan Heights. All the more reason for the United States to make clear support of Israel's negotiations with Syria.

Simmons said...

I agree. The only problem left would then be Lebanon, which could be a deal killer for the Golan Heights as well.

Unless, Israel allowed Syria to retake de facto control of Lebanon in return for their disarmament of Hezbollah. I have heard some interesting theories that this is plan, and is already being put in action - showcased by the assassination of Imad Mugniyah.

Artiom from Israel said...

Israel will never give Golan Heights