President Donald Trump has signed a document recognizing Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights, which it seized from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967.
International society does not recognize Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights and its subsequent annexation. America turns its back on this, and its unilateral change in policy is a dangerous decision that makes the occupation permanent. Changes in international borders by force cannot be permitted. Syria is, of course, repulsed, but so are neighboring Arab countries and Europe. Naturally, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says, “There is no change in Japan’s position against recognizing the annexation.”
The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the occupied land. Global society, America included, considered this a principle in attaining peace.
The Golan Heights spread across the Israeli-Syrian borderlands. To end the long-running confrontation, the Golan Heights must be returned to Syria and both countries must conclude a peace treaty that exchanges land for peace. This principle should not be shattered.
President Trump’s reason for timing his approval of the claim to Golan is worrisome. Israel’s general election is scheduled for April. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, caught in a vortex of corruption allegations, expects a tough fight.
Netanyahu is an important partner in Middle East policy for the Trump administration. If Trump is giving Netanyahu a diplomatic gift as covert support for his reelection while also making his own reelection strategy of appealing to domestic supporters of Israel, it must be said that he is making a rash decision.
As far as the Middle East is concerned, this is the third time that the Trump administration has changed policy to put domestic concerns first, after recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement. All of these actions were strongly requested by the Netanyahu government.
To bring about stability in the Middle East, the role of a great power like America is indispensable. Yet an excessive tilt toward Israel spreads distrust among other Middle Eastern countries. It will inflame the activities of Iran and extremist forces who oppose America, and might push the region one step further into instability.