Eyes New Front to Combat Iran in Golan Heights
By Adam Kredo
April 1, 2019
Trump administration's recent recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the
contested Golan Heights territory is part of a larger effort by the White House
to open new fronts in efforts to combat Iranian militants and terror proxies in
the region, according to U.S. officials familiar with the decision.
Donald Trump won plaudits from the pro-Israel community and allies on Capitol
Hill when he announced that America would officially recognize the Golan
territory on Israel's northern border as belonging to the Jewish state, which
annexed the area following war with Syria several decades ago.
officials last week faced down critics of this decision at the United Nations, a
forum unfriendly to the Jewish state, telling member countries that the Trump
administration will take every step necessary to protect Israel's right to self
defense against Iranian militants and Hezbollah fighters who have used the Golan
area to launch terrorist attacks on Israel.
the scenes, U.S. officials acknowledge that the decision to formally recognize
Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights is due in no small part to Iran's
efforts to station militant fighters and terror proxy groups such as Hezbollah
on the Jewish state's borders. In Syria, for instance, Iran has operated with
impunity and made the most of the country's unrest by sending scores of highly
decision is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel
and the stability of the Middle East," one White House official familiar
with the recent decision told the Washington Free Beacon. "To
allow the Golan Heights to be controlled by the likes of the Syrian and Iranian
regimes would turn a blind eye to the threats emanating from a Syrian regime
that engages in atrocities and from Iran and terrorist actors, including
Hezbollah, seeking to use the Golan Heights as a launching ground for attacks on
with the administration decision to accept Jerusalem as Israel's capital city,
the Golan decision was motivated by President Donald Trump's desire to recognize
on-the-ground realities in the Middle East. Israel has long administered control
over the Golan Heights and conducted security operations to keep the area clear
of terrorist fighters.
administration, unlike previous administrations, is willing to acknowledge the
reality that there can be no comprehensive peace agreement that does not
satisfactorily address Israel's security needs in the Golan Heights," said
a White House official, who would speak only on background about the motivations
behind the recent decision. "The Golan is an area vital to Israel's
decision reflects realities on the ground, including Iran's use of territory
along Israel's northern border for terrorism.
decades, the residents of the Golan Heights have been subject to the same
administration and governed by the same laws as the rest of Israel," the
White House official explained. "They have lived in close proximity to
mounting threats emanating from the Syrian regime and Iranian and Lebanese
Hezbollah activity in Syria. The president's statement on the Golan
reflects a recognition of the unique circumstances that make it appropriate to
recognize Israeli sovereignty at this time."
with the Jerusalem decision, the United States has found itself out on a ledge
in the international community, which rushed to denounce the White House's Golan
decision in forums such as the U.N.
Hunter, political coordinator for the U.S. mission to the U.N., rejected
criticism of the decision during a meeting of the international body late last
decision is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of
Israel, and the U.S. believes it can contribute to stability," Hunter told
the U.N. "Israel does not currently have a partner for peace in
Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt chastised the U.N. for siding with
Syria in the dispute.
in a ridiculous charade at the [U.N. Security Council], the Assad regime's
puppet Bashar Jaafari accused the U.S. of being a threat to peace and security
& manufacturing wars to sow chaos in Middle East. No, Mr. Jaafari, it is
your regime and ally Iran which sustains chaos & destruction!"
regime that gasses its own people and drops barrel bombs on women and children
is in no position to try to convince the [international] community of their
right to the Golan," Greenblatt said in a subsequent tweet.
who says Syria should control the Golan is taking a position not based in
reality," Greenblatt added.
"Allowing the Golan to be controlled by the Assad regime & their
Iranian backers would ignore the atrocities committed & ignore the very real
threat to Israel's existence."
Ted Cruz (R., Texas), one of the driving forces behind the Trump
administration's decision on Golan, also lashed out at the U.N. for failing to
recognize reality and enabling Iran's continued use of the Golan for terrorism.
Cruz is not surprised by the U.N.'s opposition to acknowledging Israel's
sovereignty over the Golan Heights," a Cruz spokesperson told the Free
Beacon. "The majority of the U.N continues to support the Iran nuclear
deal, which gave Iran the resources and the diplomatic space to seize territory
across the Middle East."
also continue to take endless mendacious votes against Israeli security
measures," the Cruz spokesman said. "So of course they'd oppose a
common-sense step that boosts Israel's security against Iran. Senator Cruz
believes that we should support our allies and oppose our enemies, and so he'll
continue to push his legislation that would write the recognition into
officials told the Free Beacon the administration is not worried about throwing
a possible wrench into the peace negotiations between Israel and the
Palestinians. The decision, sources said, will help move the process forward.
"The administration has made clear that it supports negotiations towards a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors," the White House official said. "This administration, unlike previous administrations, is willing to acknowledge the reality that there can be no comprehensive peace agreement that does not satisfactorily address Israel's security needs in the Golan Heights. The Golan is an area vital to Israel's national security."