The most important news, linked to the visit of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Washnigton, is not necessarily in the headlines of One. Rather, it is the decision to ask the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. This happens at a time when US President Donald Trump seeks to reinvigorate the US’s relations with its allies in the Middle East and to introduce new strategies to solve a myriad of challenges to which the United States are faced. In this context, the idea presented by Netanyahu should incite more than a casual review, from Washington.
Israel conquered two-thirds of the Golan’s territory from Syria in 1967 and annexed them in 1981 to the dismay of the international community. These strategic heights represent less than one per cent of Syrian territory, for under its control, they serve as an advanced position from which the Syrian artillery could regularly bomb the northern part of Israel and from where the Palestinian Fatah initially launched regular cross-border raids.
What the Trump Administration will decide to do with regard to Syria requires an even more important decision, about Russia. Finding out how the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin intersect or diverge from those of America will serve as a cornerstone in developing a broader and coherent strategy in the Middle East that will fulfill the twin goals of Trump, Destroy the Islamic State (Daesh) and repel the Iranian hegemony. At the same time, Washington’s definition of the Moscow regional role will have direct consequences on the position and sharing of information in the context of Israel’s security.
There are several reasons why recognizing the annexation of the Golan Heights would be beneficial to both the United States and Israel. Whether the previous Israeli-Syrian peace attempts took place in Hafez el Assad in the years 1990 to 2000 or supervised by his son Bashar in 2008 and 2010, the results were the same: Syrian leaders demand more than Either Egypt or Jordan have received, under the agreements with these countries, while offering significantly less in return. Essentially, they demand that Israel pay them a bonus for the additional decades of Syrian hostility.