regional chaos international leniency behind israeli boldness on golan heights claim
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Regional chaos, international leniency behind Israeli boldness on Golan Heights claim

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Arab Today, arab today Regional chaos, international leniency behind Israeli boldness on Golan Heights claim

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Cairo - Arab Today

The regional chaos in several Arab states as well as the international general lenient position are behind Israel's dare to recently vow not to give up the Syrian occupied Golan Heights, said Arab officials and political experts.

"Israel will not relinquish the Golan Heights," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in mid-April in a rare cabinet meeting held in the controversial heights, saying they will remain under Israeli sovereignty "forever."

The move has been widely rejected by most regional and international powers, including the Arab League (AL), the UN Security Council (UNSC), the United States, Russia, China and others that are stressing that the occupied ridge belong to the turmoil-stricken Syria.

REGIONAL CHAOS

The Israeli claim of the Golan, which it occupied from Syria in a 1967 war, is believed to be motivated by the engagement of several Arab nations in domestic turmoil, such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

"The Israeli government is generally opportunist as it attempts to make use of the current political and security situations in the Arab region to alter the legal, natural and demographic situation of the Arab, Syrian occupied Golan," AL Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Fadel Gawad told Xinhua.

"Arab states will not allow Israel to swallow more Arab territories and repeat the scenario of the Palestinian occupied territories in the Golan," said the Arab senior diplomat, stressing the Arab position in this regard is "clear and strong."

Facing growing terror activities and the rise of the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the region with affiliates in several Arab states including Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Libya, experts believe that Arabs in general and Syria in particular are too overwhelmed by internal security challenges to face Israeli violations, whether related to the Golan or others.

"The Israeli claim of the Golan is also motivated by an Arab general state of weakness. Israel certainly uses the chaotic internal conditions in Syria, which has too many problems at home to open a new fighting front over the Golan," said Nourhan al-Sheikh, a political science professor at Cairo University.

"The Zionist and pro-Israeli influence everywhere, especially in the West, is so active while Arabs are suffering a state of retreat and engagement in crises, which is a suitable environment for Israel to make its claim," the professor told Xinhua.

INTERNATIONAL LENIENCY

It is easy to understand how careless Israel is about others' condemnation via the fact that the Golan has been "and is still" occupied by Israel for 40 years without recognition of the international community.

In a quick response one day after Netanyahu's claim, a spokesman in Washington said on April 18 that "the U.S. position on the status of the Golan Heights is longstanding and unchanged," adding that "those territories are not part of Israel."

On Tuesday, the UNSC reaffirmed that the status of the occupied Golan Heights on the Syrian border with Israeli "remains unchanged." Later on Friday, Russia made a similar statement saying "the Russian stance is not changing in anyway" despite Netanyahu's recent visit to Moscow in bid for a nod.

Although "unchanged" sounds like a keyword in the international community's position on the occupied Golan Heights, Israel does not seem to care that much due to prior history of similar violations and claims that passed with no more than harmless condemnation.

"Israel has always been surprising the whole world with too radical decisions that passed without trouble," said professor Sheikh.

"Israel does not care about condemnations, laws, political or diplomatic positions, being aware that no world or Arab power can deter Israel due to their preoccupation with their own concerns and issues," she told Xinhua, arguing that Israel has always used "the policy of fait accompli" with certainty of softness and leniency of the international community.

This is why Netanyahu went on to say, "The time has come after 40 years for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain forever under Israeli sovereignty."

CHINA'S PRO-ARAB POSITION

Being a constant friend with Arab nations, China, one of the five UNSC permanent member states, is believed to have played a basic role in the council's strong rejection of the Israeli claim to the Golan Heights.

China's permanent representative at the UNSC, Liu Jieyi, said Tuesday that "the council members expressed their deep concern over the recent Israeli statements about the Golan."

Experts believe that China's support for Arab causes, including the return of Golan Heights and the establishment of a Palestinian independent state, is a significant diplomatic stance that assists concerned Arab states in the international arena.

"We feel greatly grateful for the Chinese positions and we highly value the pro-Arab Chinese role in several causes, including the Palestinian issue and the situations in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya," AL diplomat Gawad told Xinhua, also describing the international community's rejection of Netanyahu's claim as "praiseworthy."

For her part, professor Sheikh said that China has always been supportive to the Arab rights, referring to Chinese support as "very significant" due to the international weight of the giant Asian country.

"Defending and restoring territories is the responsibility of Arabs. However, this needs diplomatic and political support like that of China," the professor continued, noting that China also established partnerships in favor of the Arab world that suffers weakness due to "inter-Arab division."

ISRAELI FEARS

Some Israeli media reported that Netanyahu's remarks were made due to fears that Israel might come under pressure to return the strategic ridge to the Syrians amid talks to settle the war in the Arab country.

Professor Sheikh said Israel is mainly concerned about Russia's presence in Syria, its military support for the Syrian regime and army, and its two military bases in the Syrian territories.

"Amid all this, Israel is concerned that Syria may think of restoring the Golan Heights, although Syria has too many domestic issues. So, the main purpose of the Israeli claim is to put an end to the Golan issue and to discourage Syria from even thinking about it," she argued.

Tarek Fahmy, a political science professor and expert at the National Center for Middle East Studies, believes that one of the reasons for the Israeli claim is Netanyahu's declining popularity.

"Netanyahu's declining popularity in Israel and the growing talk about reconsidering his ruling coalition is one of the basic reasons for his claim over the Golan, as the Israeli top man seeks to gain more political and popular support in the coming period," the expert told Xinhua.

Source: XINHUA

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