Jerusalem will name a new community on the Golan Heights after U.S. President Donald Trump as an expression of gratitude for the American leader’s signed proclamation, in which he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed strategic plateau. During a tour of the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alongside his wife Sara, announced his plan to show Israel’s deep appreciation of the American President. In his words, “I’m here together with my family and masses of the house of Israel, at the foot of the Golan Heights. Delighted in true happiness of our High Holiday (Passover) and our beautiful country. And another joy. Because, several weeks ago, I bought about an official recognition from President Trump who recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights for all eternity. I believe there is a need to express our appreciation by naming a town or a city on the Golan Heights after (President) Donald Trump. I will present it to the government in the near future. May you have a happy (Passover) holiday”
The Trump Administration’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights effectively alters Washington’s decades-old policy, ever-since it adopted under the Administration of Ronald Reagan – alongside the rest of the international community – U.N. Security Council resolution 497, which deemed Israel’s legal annexation of the disputed plateau – under the Israeli ‘Golan Heights Law’ – “null and void and without international legal effect.” That said, despite President Reagan’s unwillingness to recognize Jerusalem’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights at the time, the United States refused to abandon its security commitment to the Jewish state. Following through on its commitment, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council attempt to use Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, that would have granted the international community a mandate to apply so-called “appropriate measures” based on resolution 497, which could have potentially included “military action” against Israel. It is important to note that while Damascus initially stayed out of the 1967 conflict, false reports from Cairo of a decisive victory over Israel influenced a decision by the Damascus regime to join Egypt and Jordan in their battle against the Jewish state. Among others, the Syrian armed forces conducted a bombardment against Israeli civilian settlements in the area of the Sea of Galilee, heavy mortar fire that emanated from the Golan Heights, then under Syrian control. Failed efforts by Syrian forces to invade Israel, however, boosted the confidence of the IDF, which retaliated by conducting a two-day offensive, on the 9th and 10th of June 1967, that ultimately provided Jerusalem with full control over the strategic plateau, before an internationally brokered ceasefire was adopted. Since then, Damascus has sought international support to return its lost territory, a demand Jerusalem vehemently rejects, primarily out of security considerations.
In addition to the Syrian territorial loss, as a result of its 1967 aggression; Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Since then, however, Jerusalem struck peace treaties with both Amman and Cairo, which saw the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and territories along the eastern bank of the Jordan river return to the Hashemite Kingdom. Nevertheless, the leadership of the Arab population that remained on the territories Israel captured from Jordan during the 1967 war, whom adopted the identity of “Palestinians,” a term used for all the inhabitants of ‘the land’ under British-mandated rule, refused to accept defeat. After coming to terms with Israel’s existence that led to the Oslo Accords in 1993, due to the clear Israeli military superiority; the Palestinian leadership – under the auspices of the Palestine Liberation Organization – altered their previous rejection of any partition plan, to territorial-claims over lands Jordan controlled before the 1967 war, where they aspire to establish an independent state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. It is important to note that contrary to various allegations, Israel’s leadership maintains an open position to negotiate with the Palestinian leadership a peace treaty over lands in the West Bank – despite the fact that it includes the biblical territories of Samaria, a part of Judea and the Jordan Valley. The main reason behind Israel’s reluctance to annex these territories emanates out of fear of the growing Arab population, that could – overtime – impact the Jewish demographic majority that would ultimately provide the Palestinian Arabs with powers within Jerusalem’s democratic institutions, threatening the Jewish character of the state of Israel.
That said, the Palestinian demand for east Jerusalem – which under the Israeli ‘Jerusalem Law’ of 1980 was declared by the Jewish state as the unified (and eternal) capital of state of Israel. To take Jerusalem off the negotiating table, Israel – under the guidance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – passed on the 2nd of January 2018 a new law, which requires a two-thirds majority support of the 120 seat Knesset for any attempt by a future Israeli government to partition Jerusalem. Netanyahu emphasized at the time that “under any peace agreement the capital of Israel will continue to be in Jerusalem that has forever been the capital of the Jewish people and no other nation.”
Despite international rejection of Israel’s sovereignty over the eastern part of the city, the Trump Administration announced its decision – on the 6th of December 2017 – to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and in May of 2018, it officially opened its embassy in the city.
Meanwhile, after many failed U.S. initiatives to broker a peace deal for Israel and the Palestinians, the Trump Administration has openly sought to approach the decades-old conflict from a regional standpoint. While details of the deal were not yet unveiled, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner revealed earlier this month that the so-called “deal of the century” will be presented as early as mid-June of this year.
The imminent unveiling of the American initiative has alarmed the Palestinian leadership, which has sought to boycott the Trump Administration for its decision over Jerusalem. In an effort to garner Arab support against the American effort, an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers was called for at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo at the request of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Sync B 1 1 00:21 – 01:11 – voiceover)
The Arab League responded to the Palestinian request by openly rejecting the so-called “Deal of the Century,” and reiterated the united Arab position vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Sync B 2 1 00:43 – 01:23)
Neither the U.S. state department, nor the Israeli Foreign Ministry, immediately responded to TV7’s request for comment on the statement by the Arab League.