Home Opinion The Golan Heights of war and peace

The Golan Heights of war and peace

  By Owei Lakemfa
The Holy Bible commands humanity “Thou shall not covet  thy neigbour’s house, thou shall not covet thy neigbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neigbour’s” (Exodus 20:17). That precisely was what Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu did on Sunday April 17, 2016 when he held Israel’s first cabinet meeting  in the Syrian Golan Heights. Held on a day most Christians worship, and amidst the on-going  tragic war in Syria, Netanyahu said the meeting was a joyous occasion. “I convened this celebratory meeting in the Golan Heights to send a clear message: The Golan will always remain in Israel’s hands. Israel will never withdraw from the Golan Heights.”
Having established his intention to steal his  neigbour’s lands, Netanyahu appealed to the world to endorse his criminal  actions: “It is time that the international community recognised reality … after 50 years it is time that the international community realized that the Golan will remain under Israeli sovereignty.”
Nethanyahu’s claim to fame and leadership, is essentially, his elder brother, Yonatan, an Israeli hero who died leading a rescue mission to free  hostages held at the Entebbe Airport in 1976; his  nourishment and staying  power is feasting  on the fears of insecurity in the country.  After Israeli extremists  had physically and politically, eliminated credible leaders like Yitzhak Rabin, the warmongers like Nethanyahu and  racist lightening rod, Avigdor Lieberman (who migrated from Russia as  Evet Lvovich Liberman) took over. Rabin had been instrumental to the Oslo Peace Accords which were designed to end the  Israeli-Palestinian crisis. But he was murdered on November 4, 1995 while campaigning for the Accords, and Nethanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party stoked the fires of war and rode to power the following year.
Most of the  Golan Heights were  captured  between June 9-10, 1967  during the Arab-Israeli War. Some 100,000 Syrians were displaced  or forced from the Heights during the war and until today, about 50 years later, neither they nor their children have been allowed by Israel to return to their ancestral homes. Rather, from  July 1967, Israel began building settlements starting with Meron Golan. Then in 1981, it enacted the  Golan Heights Law, making Israeli laws applicable to the Heights. This type of land grab has been responsible for the continuous violence between Israel and the Palestinians which led to the rise of contemporary terrorism as Palestinians who were denied their right to return to their ancestral lands after wars with Israel, out of frustration, started hijacking aircraft and attacking Israeli targets.
Israel had in that 1967 war also captured and occupied East Jerusalem and other Palestinian lands, and then systematically, embarked on stealing  more lands by constructing settlements on the remaining Palestinian lands especially on the West Bank.
So far, it has built 163 Jewish-only settlements and 98 ‘outposts’  on confiscated Palestinian lands.
To curb such acts and guarantee world peace, the United Nations (UN)  had in 1956 adopted  Resolution 242 which guarantees political independence for all states in the Middle East and their right to live in peace within their borders. It also reiterates the territorial inviolability of every state and a just resettlement of refugees to their ancestral lands.
The resolution was adopted following the invasion of Egypt by the combined forces of France, United Kingdom and Israel. This remains the key UN Resolution on the Middle East.
In 2008, the UN General Assembly  in a resolution – passed  by 161 countries, with only Israel voting against –  directed Israel to refrain from “changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and, in particular, to desist from the establishment of settlements [and] from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and from its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan.”
It was this UN Resolution, the warmongers in Tel Aviv set out  to violate with Netanyahu’s  proclamation that Israel is incorporating  that part of Syria into the Israeli map. Except for a sprinkling of humanity who possibly out of ignorance, selfishness or a spirit of covetousness   are backing this brazen theft and endangering world peace, the world has reacted in one voice, rejecting this gambit.  Traditional Israeli ally, the United States through its State Department Spokesman John Kirby declared “Every administration on both sides of the aisle (Republican and Democrat) since 1967 has maintained that those territories are not part of Israel.” Its  Vice President, John Biden weighed in: “We have an overwhelming obligation, notwithstanding our sometimes overwhelming frustration with the Israeli government, to push them as hard as we can toward what they know in their gut is the only ultimate solution, a two-state solution, while at the same time be an absolute guarantor of their security”
Martin Schaefer, Spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry  declared “It’s a basic principle of international law and the UN Charter that no state can claim the right to annex another state’s territory just like that.”
Sinking Republican Presidential aspirant, Sen. Ted Cruz  supports the attempted theft on the basis that “The government of Israel reiterated the reality that the Golan Heights are part of Israel’s sovereign territory.”  Cruz is aware that he is incapable of winning the Republican nomination; his only hope lies in the theft of the ticket from Donald Trump who has trounced him repeatedly in the primaries. While today, Syria is traumatised by terrorists like ISIS, al-Nusra and the ‘moderates’ but it is no reason to allow the theft of its ancestral lands.
Similar theft of lands were backed by powerful forces  for 81 years in Apartheid South Africa after white supremacists in 1913 enacted a law granting themselves the lands of the indigenous populace.
Decent humanity  which prefer honesty and peace  must resist the land grab of the Golan Heights and support the UN  Resolutions for peace. We cannot tolerate stoking  the  fires of violence  and  insecurity as was done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, and turn round to complain about a  world in flames.
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