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Photo: EPA
Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights
Photo: EPA
Shimon Shiffer
Leave Golan Heights out of Syria talks
Op-ed: The Israeli officials who keep demanding international recognition of an annexation of the Golan will soon find out that those in charge of re-dividing Syria will pressure us to reach an agreement that will include an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders.
Major-General (res.) Amiram Levin said several days ago Israel must demand a recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights by the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey in any agreement involving an outline of Syria's borders, upon the end of the civil war in the country.

 

 

Levin expressed his disappointment over Israel’s failure to get involved in the war in Syria, which he said was the reason we would have trouble receiving some of the loot being discussed by Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

Levin, in this respect, echos a mindset originating in former security experts and officials in the intelligence community, which are either delusional or, even worse, indicate that they haven’t learned a thing and haven’t drawn conclusions from the disasters caused by years of sinking into the Lebanese mud from 1982 and the insane alliances with the Christian Phalanges there.

 

An Israeli tank in the Golan Heights. No one can guarantee that the agreements on Syria will last (Photo: EPA)
An Israeli tank in the Golan Heights. No one can guarantee that the agreements on Syria will last (Photo: EPA)

 

Our decision makers, and this is something Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be praised for, exercised caution throughout the years of the Syrian civil war and turned down requests from the rebel forces. You shall receive no guidance and no weapons, they were told. Israel settled for offering medical care to thousands of people wounded in the war and drew a series of red lines aimed at defending its security interests.

 

Now, the experts on our side are pointing at the Americans’ absence from the table on which the region’s map of interests is being outlined. Moreover, they are saying that Putin has become the Middle East’s landlord, while our landlord, US President Donald Trump, is not part of the game. They seem to have forgotten, however, that after years of sinking into the mud in Afghanistan, the Russians left the country with their tail between their legs. It’s therefore too early to declare that Putin will remain the unshakable winner in his games with Turkey and Iran.

 

No one can guarantee that the agreements on Syria will last. All the Inflamatory elements remain on the ground: Radical Islam, the Kurds, and the hatred between the Alawis and the Sunni majority in Syria. And if I may be cynical, may I ask what happened in the endless “coordination” meetings Netanyahu took pride in every time he rushed to Sochi or Moscow to meet with Putin. There was so much “coordination,” that we see the Iranians and their emissaries approaching the Golan Heights border.

 

Our northern border is getting crowded. Putin, regardless of the threats voiced by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, will likely restrain the Iranians and won’t give them freedom of action against targets in Israel. But there is no coordination that can prevent future mishaps, which could easily deteriorate into flare-up which neither side had planned on.

 

Those who are lashing out at the Americans, accusing them of pulling out of the region and leaving the stage to Putin, should educate themselves the Vietnam War. The United States, it turns out, has yet to heal from the war that claimed 58,000 of its soldiers and caused deep rifts in American society. The basic values that join a nation into one diverse entity were destroyed. If we add the internal American rift after the 2003 Iraq War, we will understand why the Obama and Trump administrations weren’t eager and still aren’t to stick their hands in the boiling turmoil around us.

 

Nevertheless, we must not forget that America remains the world’s greatest and most important power, and even if its representatives aren’t sitting and racking their brains, trying to figure out what will happen to Al-Nusra Front or any other organization that tried to drive Syrian President Bashar Assad away, the US is present in the mind of anyone who would want to target Israel. On the day of reckoning, like it did in the past, it will stand by our side.

 

The Israelis who keep demanding international recognition of an annexation of the Golan Heights will soon find out that those in charge of re-dividing Syria will pressure us to reach an agreement that will include an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders. Do you want to keep enjoying the view at the guesthouses in the Golan Heights? Then shut up and focus on the important thing: Defending Israel’s citizens from the tens of thousands of missiles Hezbollah has in store for us. A missile pointed at us in the first act will likely be fired in the third act.

 

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