Claiming Golan

There are 32 Illegal Israeli settlements with 20,000 people living in them.

Editorial March 29, 2019

Donald Trump’s efforts to tear apart the North Atlantic alliance continued this week as he went against international law to declare Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights — a Syrian territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. The four other UNSC members — Russia, China, France and UK — along with a host of other countries including the whole EU, have rejected Trump’s decision to recognise the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. They insist Europe’s position had not changed and that the Golan Heights remain Israeli-occupied Syrian territory, in line with international law enshrined in UN resolutions.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad, whose forces have been battling rebels and militants in a devastating eight-year civil war, has called the move a “blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria. But universal condemnation has little effect on the US government, which continues its descent towards pariah status with concentrated efforts to show its contempt for international law. The move, unsurprisingly, is also against established US policy.

‘Fortunately’, the move will do surprisingly little to change life in the region, as Israel has, like in other areas it occupies, been stealing land in the region for decades. Unlike Palestine, however, Syria is a full UN member state, and the fact that the world cannot get the Israelis to remove themselves from the region speaks of the weakness, or biases, of international law.

There are 32 Illegal Israeli settlements with 20,000 people living in them. The very foundation of these settlements is a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Israel demolished a hundred Syrian villages and farms in the Golan Heights before giving that land to Israeli settlers. Even under saner leadership, neither Israel nor the US seemed willing to abide by international law and return the Golan Heights to Syria. Neither did the world do anything more than condemn Israeli actions. Expect more of the same.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2019.

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