16:49 , 04.24.08

 
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Highlanders
Photo: Avihu Shapira Vigilant. Malka Photo: Avihu Shapira
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Attempt to cede Golan doomed to fail, say local leaders

Recent statements regarding Olmert's willingness to withdraw from Golan Heights prompt emergency meeting of regional council heads. 'The Golan belongs to Israel, we will never give it up,' they say
Hagai Einav

Leaders of communities in the Golan Heights held a special meeting in Katzrin on Thursday following recent reports suggesting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is willing to cede Israeli control of the Golan in exchange for comprehensive peace with Syria.

 

A statement issued after the meeting concluded asserted that "all construction and development projects in the Golan are going ahead as planned, propelled by the certainty that any attempt to harm Israeli sovereignty in the Golan will cause severe damage to state security and thus is doomed to fail."

 

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The Golan Heights, stressed the statement "belongs to the people of Israel, who will never agree to give it up."

 

Golan Council Head Eli Malka told Ynet the meeting was convened "in light of the reports we have been hearing over the past few days… We have decided to be vigilant in case any similar statements are made.

 

"We will also begin lobbying in the Knesset for the 61 signatures needed to pass the Golan referendum bill… For me, as someone rooted in the Golan, if any of the reports are true, Israel's image will suffer a major blow – it seems like a far-fetched move, completely against the interest of Israel, the US and France," he added.

 

Sami Bar-Lev, head of the Katsrin Local Council reiterates: "We are convinced that everyone understands that the Golan is a part of Israel and we will never give it up. The northern border hasn't been this quiet in decades and any survey held on the matter has shown that 80% of Israelis are not willing to make any concessions in it."

 

During the meeting, the community heads also decided to launch a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following reports that Turkey is the third party mediator in covert negotiations between Israel and Syria.

 

In the letter, the community heads praised the peace talks and asked Erdogan to strive for the implementation of a deal like the one signed between Turkey and Syria in 2004, which solved a similar conflict over disputed territories.

 

According to Malka and Bar-Lev, the Syrian-Turkish peace model could assist in solving the dispute about the Golan Heights. They also claimed that an agreement could be formulated, which does not require the evacuation of the Golan Heights.

 

"In the treaty signed (between Syria and Turkey), Syria relinquished the land, and since then peace has reigned in the region. For us, this is the best way to solve the conflict, and to reach a just peace between ourselves and our neighbors," they wrote.

 

The Heads of the Golan communities further said that plans regarding concessions in the Golan came up during Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak's tenures as prime ministers, never materialized. The Golan Communities Council – which represents the 33 Golan communities, they added, would not be resuming its protests activities at this time.

 




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