US President Donald Trump has once again baffled the world with a tweet – this time by calling on the US to “fully recognize” Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights – a Syrian territory it occupied during the 1967 Six Day War and effectively annexed in 1981.
If Washington actually goes for it, such a move would constitute a blatant disregard to international law as well as to the international commitments the US itself assumed when it supported a 1981 resolution, which declared the Israeli occupation of the Golan null and void. So why does the White House see it not just as possible but even a desirable outcome?
It seems, out of all probable reasons, that the Trump administration might be motivated by a desire to help one Israeli politician swing a political situation in his favor back at home, where he faces tough competition in forthcoming elections, at a time when he faces corruption charges.
Officially, Trump denied any connection between his “long thought” decision and Netanyahu’s potential re-election that he supposedly “had no idea” about, but the timing of his sudden call is just too perfect to be a mere coincidence. Besides, it is an open secret that Netanyahu has close ties to some people in the Trump administration – and particularly to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner – a fact that has been covered by both American and Israeli media.
“He [Trump] is clearly doing this to help his friend Benjamin Netanyahu with his really difficult re-election campaign amid allegations of corruption,” Jim Jatras, a former US diplomat, told RT. The official recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan by the US could come as soon as next week, during Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, the analysts believe.
“It is a very transparent gift to Netanyahu,” Gideon Levy, a columnist at the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, said. Meanwhile, Abdel Bari Atwan, an author and the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, an Arab world digital news and opinion website, went as far as to say that Trump “seems” to act as a “spokesman for Netanyahu.” Kushner, who arguably exerts significant influence on Trump’s Middle Eastern policy, could also play a major role in this ploy, as Alessandro Bruno, an independent political analyst, believes.
Intervention in Israeli elections?
As bad as a violation of international law for the sake of one man’s well-being might be, it is not the only problem associated with Trump’s new reckless idea. The whole move is effectively nothing but a blatant direct interference into Israeli elections, which is quite clearly aimed at giving one particular candidate a boost.
It is a flagrant interference in the election process, Levy said, adding that Netanyahu would likely try to present the whole ordeal as another “historic achievement” of his policies – just like he did with the US recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
It still remains unclear, whether this move would help Washington’s favorite to actually win, as, according to Levy, the Golan heights “are not on the table” right now and the US gift to Netanyahu “is unlikely to have a major effect.”
But Washington goes its way recognizing the Golan after its previous stunt with moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.
“There is no one in the world, who has any doubts about the legal status of the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights are an occupied territory. And here comes an American president and says: ‘no matter what the international law says, no matter what the world says. We recognize it as Israel’s sovereign land because Israel holds it for so many years,’” says Levy.