Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook has written an article on the Israeli annexation of Golan Heights and the consequence of US recognition that raises a number of issues.
Israel expelled 130,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights in 1967. A small population of Syrian Druze are the only survivors of that ethnic cleansing operation. Israel then immediately moved Jewish settlers and businesses into the Golan. Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US and a confidant of Netanyahu’s, formally launched a plan last year to quadruple the size of the Golan’s settler population, to 100,000, within a decade.
The territory is rich in water sources and provides Israel with decisive control over the Sea of Galilee, a large freshwater lake that is crucially important in a region facing ever greater water shortages. The 1,200 square kilometres of stolen land is being aggressively commercialized, from burgeoning vineyards and apple orchards to a tourism industry that, in winter, includes the snow-covered slopes of Mount Hermon. Israeli and US companies are setting up wind farms to sell electricity.
Israel has been quietly co-operating with US energy giant Genie to explore potentially large oil reserves under the Golan. But extracting the oil will be difficult, unless Israel can plausibly convince the oil corporations that it has sovereignty over the territory.
US recognition will prove a boon for the Israeli right, which has been clamouring to annex vast areas of the West Bank and thereby drive a final nail into the coffin of the two-state solution.
Israel’s right can now argue that if Trump has consented to the internationally deemed illegal seizure of the Golan, why not annex the West Bank, too.