The U.S. president’s acknowledgment of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights is an unacceptable violation of the United Nations charter.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s formal acknowledgment of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights is an unacceptable violation of the U.N.’s declarations on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Washington was once instrumental in bringing about peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan; however, Trump’s proclamation invalidates any such role Washington may have in securing a permanent resolution between Israel and Syria. Trump’s decision is therefore very damaging, both in terms of achieving peace in the region and for U.S. foreign policy.
The territory where the Golan Heights is situated was formerly divided between Lebanon and Syria until it was occupied by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967. In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, it was the scene of bloody battles but ultimately remained under Israeli control. The U.N. has repeatedly demanded an end to Israel’s occupation of the region and since 1974, has fulfilled its mission to act as a buffer between Syrian and Israeli troops. Jerusalem claims the Golan Heights are strategically important for Israel's defense and since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, has condemned the hostilities shown by Iran on the other side of the border. In 1981, the Israeli parliament added the territory to the rest of the country, taking care to avoid using the word “annexation” in its declaration. This de facto annexation was immediately condemned by the U.N.
Trump is now renouncing the role of arbitrator, making it less likely that the U.S. will mediate a possible resolution. Essentially, Trump’s actions mean that the U.S. is no longer a trustworthy mediator as far as one of the parties involved in the conflict (in this case, the weakest), is concerned. These actions are simply a continuation of the diplomatic strategy he initiated almost a year ago when he decided to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, thus recognizing this city, the eastern side of which has also been under Israeli occupation since 1967, as Israel’s capital. This move undermined the almost unanimous international consensus regarding the region and consigned the territorial dispute to the Israelis and Palestinians to resolve for themselves. Now, Trump has unilaterally broken this consensus again, this time to the detriment of another Arab neighbor.
Furthermore, the U.S. president’s decision coincides with the run-up to the Israeli elections, which are due to take place on April 9, and which constitutes a public show of support for the conservative prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing serious allegations of corruption and will undoubtedly try to take electoral advantage of Trump’s declaration. Therefore, Trump has also directly intervened in another country’s elections. His perfectly timed decision benefits a nationalist candidate to the detriment of all other people, including his own country.