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Israel will not leave the Golan Heights

If Syria ruled the Golan, we'd expect murdered Jews; under Israel, we have security, jobs and full rights for all
An Israeli flag is seen placed on Mount Bental in the  Golan Heights on May 10, 2018.( AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREY)
An Israeli flag is seen placed on Mount Bental in the Golan Heights on May 10, 2018.( AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREY)

The title of our campaign is simple: The World with the Golan.

The world needs to understand that on the issue of the Golan Heights there is no opposition and coalition in Israel. We all believe that now is the time.

There is a rare window of opportunity to secure global recognition of our rightful sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The window was created in part because anyone with an understanding of reality can see that Israel will never return the Golan Heights to Assad, a psychopath who has murdered half a million of his own people and whose partners are Iran and Hezbollah. Nor should we ever be asked to.

The strategic importance of the area is clear to anyone who has stood in the Galilee and looked up at the Golan Heights. We will not allow it to become another place from which Israel is under constant threat. Not now and not after Assad.

The argument that the Golan Heights historically belong to Syria is absurd. Syria ruled over the Golan Heights for only 21 years, from 1946 to 1967.

Israel’s connection is traced back to the Bible. The Golan is the biblical Bashan. In Deuteronomy, it says, “Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites.”

During archaeological excavations in the area, a coin was discovered dating from 67 CE and on it an inscription, “For the redemption of Jerusalem the Holy.” The Romans came to the Golan to crush the Jewish rebellion. Already back then, the Golan was a fortress which protected Jerusalem. Today, it is Jerusalem’s duty to protect the Golan.

But this is not only an issue of history and security. It’s an issue of human rights. In the Golan Heights there is a roughly equal number of Druze and Jews. If the world really cares about human rights, the most basic of which is the right to life, then the international community must ask itself a simple question: What’s preferable — that the Druze live under Israeli rule with personal security, a strong economy and full rights, or that the Jews try to live under Syrian rule where they will be murdered at the first opportunity. A regime that doesn’t hesitate to murder half a million of its own people including women and children, won’t hesitate to murder Jews.

I turn to President Trump and say: After your brave step in recognizing Jerusalem and moving the embassy, recognize our sovereignty over the Golan Heights. And I turn to the Members of Congress from both parties, Republicans and Democrats: put Israel above partisan politics once more and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

And I also turn to the leaders of Europe: For years you turned a blind eye to the massacres in Syria. This time, do the right thing. Recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Israel will not leave the Golan Heights and no one who cares about our security should ever expect us to. The world needs to recognize that reality. I call upon all of Israel’s friends to join us in this campaign and ensure that the world does what Israel did long ago; secure the future of the Golan Heights.

About the Author
Yair Lapid is a member of Knesset and the chairman of the Yesh Atid party.
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