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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Golan’

Assad to Netanyahu: Help Me Keep my Seat and I Guarantee You a Calm Golan

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

A Kuwaiti news website on Friday cited a source saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received a message from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in which Assad vowed to keep the Golan as a demilitarized zone, and the rest of Syria committed to a cease-fire with Israel, if Netanyahu commits to not engaging Israel in an effort to topple Assad.

The source commented that Assad was saying to Netanyahu, in effect: “Help me to control my region and I guarantee calm for Israel in the Golan Heights.”

Commenting on rumors that former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk is slated to be President Hillary Clinton’s special envoy on the peace process between Israel and its neighbors, the source told the news website that Israel is very concerned over a report that was prepared by Indyk for President Bill Clinton about the Golan Heights. Israel is anxious to point US attention to the fact that the situation on south Syria and south Lebanon has been altered by the five-year civil war, and American notions about returning the Golan to Syria are absurd under these circumstances. Assad apparently wishes to take advantage of an opportunity to strike a deal with the Israelis to secure their neutrality in the war.

Meanwhile, Politico.eu reported Saturday that Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said his country is offering Russia access to the Gulf Cooperation Council Market and regional investment funds in return for pulling its support for the Assad regime.

“We are ready to give Russia a stake in the Middle East that will make Russia a force stronger than the Soviet Union, greater than China’s,” the Saudi minister said, adding, “It would be reasonable for Russia to say, that’s where our relations will advance our interests, not with Assad. We don’t disagree on the end game in Syria but on how to get there. Assad’s days are numbered,” he urged, “so make a deal while you can.”

JNi.Media

Syrian Mortar Lands on Israeli Side of the Golan

Monday, July 25th, 2016

An stray mortar from fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights landed on the Israeli side of the border at around 7 PM on Monday evening.

The IDF reports no injuries or damage from the strike.

The Israeli Air Force hit back at the source of the mortar fire.

Jewish Press News Briefs

UPDATE – Patriot Missiles Launched at Drone Over Golan Heights

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Two Patriot missiles were launched at a drone that penetrated Israeli territory in the central Golan Heights from Syria. An air force aircraft also launched a missile at the drone.

Despite the initial assessment that the missiles hit their target, it turns out that all the missiles missed the drone, and it flew back into Syrian airspace.

Fragments of the Patriot missile landed near Kibbutz Ayelet Hashachar, starting a fire, and hitting a 14-year-old girl.

The event was preceded with alert sirens in the Golan Heights and in Tsfat at 5:04 PM.

David Israel

Gateway to Temple of the ‘God’ Pan May Have Been Excavated at Golan National Park

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Has the gate to the compound of the god Pan been discovered at Sussita (Hippos) National Park in the Golan? A monumental Roman gate discovered in the excavations by the University of Haifa at Hippos may cast light on the bronze mask of Pan – the only object of its kind found anywhere in the world – that was discovered in the same site during last year’s excavation season. “Now that the whole gate has been exposed, we not only have better information for dating the mask, but also a clue to its function. Are we looking at a gate that led to the sanctuary of the god Pan or one of the rustic gods?” wonders Dr. Michael Eisenberg, the head of the expedition.

Last year, researchers from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa made one of the most unique and unusual findings of recent years. They unearthed a bronze mask representing Pan, the god of shepherds. Half man and half goat, Pan also represents fields, music, and merriment. The discovery was huge on a global scale. It also seriously complicated efforts to date the item or explain its possible function.

Dr. Eisenberg notes that for the time being it has only been possible to suggest hypotheses regarding the mask’s original functioning and to use artistic and stylistic criteria to propose a possible date for its casting.

Hippos saddle side – an accurate photogrammetric model of the gates' structure, the two towers and the gate between them. The mask of Pan is placed where it was found. (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Photogrammetry: Eli Gershtein)

Hippos saddle side – an accurate photogrammetric model of the gates’ structure, the two towers and the gate between them. The mask of Pan is placed where it was found. (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Photogrammetry: Eli Gershtein)

The mask was discovered in the remains of a large basalt ashlar building, and the researchers assumed that uncovering the building would provide additional information about the unique object. As happens almost every year, Sussita did not fail to yield some surprises. The researchers were working on the hypothesis that the building formed part of the fortifications of the city, but as they dug deeper they found two square basalt towers with dimensions of approximately 6.30 meters x 6.30 meters and a portal of 3.7 meters wide in-between. The researchers concluded that the original gateway was over six meters high, while the building (propylaeum) itself was even taller. The propylaeum can probably be dated to the period of the Emperor Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 CE, or slightly earlier. The mask was presumably fixed to a wall or altar at the compound, as its rear side included remnants of lead used for stabilization purposes. Now, however, the researchers can offer a fuller analysis regarding not only the mask’s dating, but also its function.

The team that exposed the portal at the end of the day, next to the structure of the gate (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg)

The team that exposed the portal at the end of the day, next to the structure of the gate (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg)

“When we found the mask on its own, we assumed that it had filled a ritual function. Since we found it outside the city, one of the hypotheses was that we were looking at evidence of a mysterious ritual center that existed outside the city. However, as we all know, monumental gate structures lead to large compounds. Accordingly, it is not impossible that this gate led to a large building complex – perhaps a sanctuary in honor of the god Pan or one of the other rustic gods – situated just before the entrance to the city of Hippos,” Dr. Eisenberg suggests.

“The mask, and now the gate in which it was embedded, are continuing to fire our imaginations. The worship of Pan sometimes included ceremonies involving drinking, sacrifices, and ecstatic rituals including nudity and sex. This worship usually took place outside the city walls, in caves and other natural settings. We are very familiar with the city of Paneas to the north of Hippos, which was the site of one of the best-known sanctuaries for the worship of Pan. But here we find a monumental gate and evidence of an extensive compound, so that the mystery only gets stranger. What kind of worship of Pan or his fellow Dionysus, the god of wine, took place here in Hippos? To answer that question, we will have to keep on digging,” concludes Dr. Eisenberg.

Since 2000, the ancient city of Hippos has gradually being unearthed by an international expedition under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa. Hippos lies within Sussita National Park, which is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The next excavation season will be held in July 2016, with the participation of dozens of researchers and volunteers from Israel and around the world.

JNi.Media

Hypocrisy On The Golan Heights

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Fifteen countries illegally occupying other countries’ territories have denounced Israel for refusing to surrender the Golan Heights. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry – or perhaps just turn the page.

The current president of the United Nations Security Council, Chinese ambassador Liu Jieyi, recently chaired a closed meeting of the 15 council members and announced afterward that they share a “deep concern” about Israel’s position that it will not retreat from the Golan. They insisted that Israel’s presence on the Golan is illegal.

Ambassador Jieyi represents a Chinese regime that has been illegally occupying Tibet since 1950. China also illegally occupies various islands in the South China Sea, including the Paracel Islands, which it seized from Vietnam in 1974, and the Scarborough Shoal, from which it has blocked Phillippine forces since 2012.Medoff-052016

Who are the other Security Council members who are so “concerned” about Israel controlling the Golan?

Among the permanent members of the Council, there’s Russia, which occupied a large portion of Ukraine just two years ago. There’s France, which occupies assorted islands in the Indian Ocean (near Madagascar) and Antarctica. And there’s Great Britain, which occupies a long list of small territories around the world, of which the Falkland Islands are the best known because of Argentina’s unsuccessful 1982 attempt to oust the islands’ British occupiers.

Among the non-permanent current members of the UN Security Council angry at Israel there’s Spain, which occupies the Canary Islands (near Morocco), as well as the cities of Ceuta and Melilla and seven other enclaves on Africa’s northern coast.

There’s Angola, which since 1975 has been occupying the territory of Cabinda. Somebody should ask the spokesmen for the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave and the Republic of Cabinda Government in Exile what they think about Angola’s concern regarding the Golan.

Don’t forget Malaysia, which occupies North Borneo, a territory the Philippines claim as its own. Not to mention Venezuela, which occupies Ankoko Island against the wishes of neighboring Guyana. Or Japan, which occupies the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, despite the protests of Taiwan and Communist China. Or Egypt, which occupies the Elba Mountains and the Hala’ib Triangle, territories that are claimed by Sudan.

The only Security Council member that tried to inject even a modicum of reason into the Golan Heights discussion was the United States. Although State Department spokesman John Kirby reiterated the standard U.S. opposition to Israeli administration of the Golan, he at least he acknowledged that “the current situation in Syria makes it difficult [to change the status of the Golan] at this time.”

That, perhaps, is the most important point to be made in this discussion. If Israel were to do as the UN Security Council is demanding, the Golan Heights would be in the control of the genocidal Assad regime or the equally genocidal forces of ISIS.

Anyone who does not appreciate what that would mean for Israel should read Hugh Nissenson’s classic Notes from the Frontier, a poignant chronicle of the months he spent on a kibbutz near the Syrian border in 1965 – that is, when the Golan was in Syria’s hands.

“The Syrian mountains [of the Golan] are about a thousand feet above us, and their fortifications on the slopes completely dominate our settlements,” a kibbutznik explained to Nissenson shortly after his arrival. “They shell us anytime they like, and there’s nothing we can do about it…”

Keeping in mind that Assad and ISIS possess weapons far more dangerous than those of 1965, it’s hardly surprising that Israelis are not anxious to return to the days of being attacked “anytime they like” and being unable to do anything about it.

Today there is something Israelis can do about it. They can stay right where they are and ignore the occupiers who hypocritically complain about others’ occupations.

Dr. Rafael Medoff

The Case for Israeli Sovereignty in the Golan Heights

Monday, May 16th, 2016

{Written by British-Israeli political commentator and writer Eylon Aslan-Levy. Originally posted to The Tower Magazine website}

The Golan Heights are back in the news, with concerns that a great power deal on Syria’s future might include renewed demands on Israel to return the territory to the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Israeli cabinet was helicoptered to the mountain ridge on April 17 for a special session, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he wished to “to send a clear message [to the world, that] Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights.”

Netanyahu was right to make such a statement. Whatever the political future of Syria, Middle East regional security requires international recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Moreover, as the war-weary great powers seek a comprehensive settlement in Syria, they have a unique political and legal opportunity to do so.

With the rise of terrorism and the collapse of much of the Middle East into near-anarchy, the world is entering uncharted waters in which the normal rules of statecraft and international law offer no clear answers. The international community, therefore, has an opportunity to reinforce a troubled international order by recognizing the border between Syria and Israel east of the Golan Heights. It is vital that the international community conclusively end the ambiguity over the Golan’s fate in order to help stabilize the region in the decades ahead.
The Golan Heights is a strategic ridge abutting the Sea of Galilee. Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Six-Day War when it repelled an invasion by the Syrian army. Rejecting Israel’s surprise offer at the war’s end to return the Heights in exchange for peace, Syria launched a failed but bloody bid to recapture the Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israel formally annexed the Golan on December 14, 1981. Three days later, the United Nations Security Council unanimously declared the annexation null and void in Resolution 497, demanding that Israel rescind its decision. Responding to Netanyahu, the Security Council confirmed in April that its resolution still stands.

To date, even Israel’s allies remain unconvinced of its claims to the Golan. The day after Netanyahu vowed that the Heights would “forever remain under Israeli sovereignty,” the U.S. and Germany reaffirmed their position that the Golan is not under Israeli sovereignty in the first place. The U.S. State Department confirmed that it expects the fate of the Heights to be determined via negotiations—although by acknowledging that “the current situation in Syria does not allow this,” spokesman John Kirby implicitly legitimized Israel’s continued hold over the territory pending Syria’s reconstitution.

No serious observer, however, believes that Syria can be reconstituted. The Kurds declared an autonomous Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava) in March 2016, and will not surrender this freedom lightly. The Syrian opposition is against a formal partition of Syria, but the option of transforming the country into a federal state is on the table. If the country’s five-year-long civil war continues, interest in partition will likely grow, either as a last resort or recognition of an existing reality. The logical corollary of ceasefire efforts is that a de facto partition will begin to crystallize, as none of the warning parties will agree to govern together or be governed by each other. “We know how to make an omelet from an egg,” observed Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, but “I don’t know how to make an egg from an omelet.”

Any geopolitical settlement that involves redrawing Syria’s borders for the sake of regional security must also rubber-stamp Israel’s control of the Golan for the same purpose. The Heights have now been governed by Jerusalem for over twice as long as Damascus—49 years versus 22. It is time to recognize that change as permanent.
Broadly speaking, there are four key ways in which a state can cease to exist under international law. First, a state can splinter through a series of secessions, leaving behind a rump state that inherits its predecessor’s legal personality. For example, Russia is the recognized legal continuation of the USSR. Second, a state can be ripped apart by internal strife to such an extent that it is deemed to have ceased to exist and no single successor inherits its legal personality. Yugoslavia is an example of this. Third, a state can dissolve itself by agreement. Czechoslovakia, for instance, voted to divide itself out of existence. Fourth, a state can voluntarily merge or be absorbed into another state, as when East Germany dissolved itself when it was united with West Germany.

Syria could plausibly collapse along the lines of the first two possibilities: Secessions could leave a diminished core limping on like post-Soviet Russia; or the secessions could be of such magnitude that the world concludes Syria has ceased to exist, rejecting the claim that a rump Assad-governed enclave is the rightful continuation of Syria. But whatever happens, there will only be a stable border between these entities and Israel if the latter retains permanent control of the Golan Heights.

The current military situation in Syria.

The current military situation in Syria.

This Soviet-style scenario could play out as follows: Syria could experience a series of secessions, beginning with ISIS and the Kurds and extending to other rebel groups. If Damascus accedes to these secessions, betting on the survival of Assad’s Alawite minority in a smaller state, the new states’ independence would be universally recognized. In turn, the world could recognize the rump Syria as the legal successor of the old entity, including its continued claim over the Golan Heights. Indeed, the Vienna Convention on State Successions in Respect of Treaties is explicit in stating that “a succession of states as such does not affect a boundary established by treaty,” i.e., the legal instruments that created modern Syria.

Nevertheless, the promotion of new borders for the sake of regional security provides a golden opportunity to take other factors into account.

First, the Golan is vital to Israel’s security: Israel cannot risk the presence of a powerful army or jihadist guerillas along the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. This means that Israeli possession of the Golan is vital for regional security, because a war in which the Golan is used against Israel would have regional ramifications. Considering Hezbollah’s heavy involvement in the Syrian war, anything that allows the Iranian proxy to threaten Israeli territory increases the prospects and potential scope of a regional war in which Israel will use force that many will undoubtedly condemn as disproportionate in order to eliminate the threat of incessant rocket attacks on a vulnerable population. Indeed, it appears that Iran is formulating a Plan B for Syria that involves leaving a Hezbollah-style force on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights for the day after Syria ceases to be unitary state. Jerusalem needs to control the Heights in order to minimize this threat.

Second, the question of the Golan’s fate needs to be settled in order to prevent future instability. Whatever entities arise east of the Golan need to know that they have no chance of reaching the Sea of Galilee if war is to be prevented. Hezbollah and Iran are likely to invoke Israel’s presence on the Heights as an excuse for further aggression, so the world needs to resolve in advance that it will categorically reject such arguments and treat the Golan border as inviolable.

Third, the residents of the Golan wish to remain part of Israel. Increasing numbers of Golan Druze are taking Israeli citizenship. If other parts of Syria are splintering off because the residents reject being ruled by Damascus, the wishes of the Golan Druze, who have known Israeli rule for 50 years now, should be similarly respected. And that is before addressing the issue of the Israeli Jews living on the Golan. The world claims that the Golan is occupied, but in an ongoing comparative study, Prof. Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University Law School has found that the international community has generally been willing to allow settlers to vote in referenda on the fate of occupied territory. Thus, the Baker Plan envisioned Moroccan settlers voting on the fate of Western Sahara and the Annan Plan allowed Turkish settlers in Northern Cyprus to vote on the island’s fate.

If the international community were to follow its own established practice, it might propose a referendum in which all residents of the Golan—Jewish and Druze—could vote to accept Israel’s annexation of the territory. At any rate, this would be far less controversial than actually delivering these Druze into Assad’s hands.

There are other grounds on which the international community could legally ratify Israel’s control of the Heights. Consider the legal principle of “effectivity,” which was eloquently articulated by the Canadian Supreme Court in its landmark 1998 legal opinion on the possible secession of Quebec. This ruling “proclaims that an illegal act may eventually acquire legal status if, as a matter of empirical fact, it is recognized on the international plane.” Addressing fears that this would encourage illegal activity, the court clarified that “a subsequent condonation of an initially illegal act [does not] retroactively create a legal right to engage in the act in the first place.” This principle gives the world the ability to conclude that, although the initial annexation was illegal, and there is no right to annex occupied territory, the effectiveness of Israel’s policy means that it should receive retroactive approval, especially in light of a fundamental change of circumstances.

It is true that international law considers the crime of aggression to be a violation of jus cogens law, meaning that states must refrain from recognizing its effects. But the Heights were not conquered in an aggressive war, and the Security Council notably rejected the idea that the annexation was aggressive in a Jordanian draft resolution on the issue. Having recently annexed Crimea, even Russia should be open to reconsidering the case for defensive conquest.

Legally and politically, the case for recognizing Israel’s control of the Golan would be solid.
That would cover a Soviet-style collapse, in which Syria splinters but leaves behind an intact core. But should Syria be officially dissolved instead, as was Yugoslavia, by the secession of various regions, a radically new legal and political reality would be created.

Consider the following scenario: If Syria experiences multiple secessions, which might include the Assad regime fleeing Damascus in favor of a coastal Alawite state, it is possible that no new state would comprise a majority of Syria’s territory or population. In this case, the world powers might declare that Syria has ceased to exist and refuse to recognize any of the successor states emerging from the rubble as the inheritor of Syria’s legal personality. “Extinction is not effected by…prolonged anarchy within the State,” explained Justice James Crawford of the International Court of Justice, “provided that the original organs of the State…retain at least some semblance of control.” Syria could soon conclusively fail to meet that test.

After the Yugoslavian civil war erupted, it became clear that the country could not be reconstituted. The Badinter Arbitration Commission judged in 1991 that “Yugoslavia is in the process of dissolution.” Then, in 1992, the Security Council decreed in Resolution 777 that “the state formerly known as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has ceased to exist” and stated that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, later known as Serbia and Montenegro, could not “continue automatically” Yugoslavia’s membership in the UN. The FRY’s claim to be Yugoslavia was widely disputed, since it did not contain a majority of its predecessor’s population or territory. In a subsequent treaty, the five successor states agreed to divide between them the former Yugoslavia’s rights and assets as sovereign equals.

Seven independent states and more autonomous regions eventually emerged from the former Yugoslavia.

Seven independent states and more autonomous regions eventually emerged from the former Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia dissolved despite the survival of its federal territories. The judgment that such a state in effect longer exists would be even stronger in the case of a unitary state collapsing along battle lines rather than internal boundaries, as Syria is doing now. In effect, no new state would have a strong claim to “be” Syria, and the world powers could declare that it has been extinguished with no single successor.

This would create a curious paradox or lacuna—a gap in the law. In effect, standing international resolutions would be demanding that Israel return territory to a state that no longer exists. Crucially, since none of the successor states would automatically inherit Syria’s rights and assets, none would inherit a prior legal right to the Golan Heights. Israel would have a prima facie obligation to hand over the territory, but no state in the world would have a legal claim to receive it. What would happen then?

The answer is that nobody knows. Syria’s successor states would have to justify their existence on the basis of the territories they control at the end of hostilities. They could not claim territory outside their effective control. This provides a unique window in which Israel’s claim to the Golan could be recognized with reference to its actual possession of the territory.

Such a situation would be almost unprecedented. It would be the first dissolution of a unitary, rather than federal, state in modern history, with one ironic exception—Palestine. When Mandatory Palestine collapsed into internecine warfare in 1948, the world recognized Israel’s boundaries not with reference to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which was never implemented, but Israel’s actual possession of territory at the end of hostilities. It is true that claims to the territory by invading third parties were not recognized, namely Transjordan’s claim over the West Bank, but the ambiguity created by the unresolved question of sovereignty over this territory haunts the world to this day and remains a source of instability. By recognizing Israel’s control of the Golan, the world can prevent the emergence of another such anomaly that will only be a source of future grief.
The purpose of international law is to protect the international order, one in which states exist within secure and recognized borders. When the law provides no clear answers, it should be interpreted in the spirit of bolstering this international order. If the international community wishes to do this, nothing can legally stop it. The only way to bolster this international order and resolve the open question of the Golan is to recognize Israeli control over the territory.

From the Israeli perspective, this is obvious. Realistically speaking, there is no longer any incentive for Israel to return the Heights to Damascus. Until recently, some in Israel hoped to offer the Golan in order to seduce Syria away from the Iranian axis, a bold gamble to thwart Tehran’s push for regional hegemony. But with Iran emboldened by the recent nuclear deal and Syria now firmly under its domination, that possibility is foreclosed.

The process by which the world might recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Heights, however, will not be easy. The world needs not wait until the official collapse of Syria, but these scenarios may still be a way off, as the world powers resist recognizing the inevitable. Iran and Russia have every interest in maximizing Assad’s control over Syria, and would only write off the country as an absolute last resort. Recognizing breakaway states would raise uncomfortable questions about what is to be done about ISIS. And the current areas of control by various parties to the Syrian civil war do not neatly divide into separate, coherent entities that could be viable states.

But as surrounding states collapse further into a war of all against all, international recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan would be a bold statement in defense of the international order. Should the world fail to make such a statement, the Middle East could yet pay a heavy price for the world’s failure to let an anachronistic policy fall into desuetude.

{Eylon Aslan-Levy is a British-Israeli political commentator and writer. He is a graduate of Oxford and Cambridge, and a veteran lone soldier in the IDF. Twitter: @EylonALevy }

The Tower

What Yair Golan Intended to Say

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Shimon Riklin posted this:

I want to apologize to the Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan. It turns out that someone had made a substitution in the text of his speech. Here is the part of his speech [that caused such a ruckus and outcry – YM] in its original version:

“If there is some memory that is scary to see in recalling the horrifying developments that took place in Europe that have begin to unfold here, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe – particularly in Germany – 70, 80, and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here in the Jewish state the year 2016, among the Palestinians who are trying to kill us just because we are Jews who are different from them
Thus, they are trying to complete what the Mufti tried to do in hoping to build incinerators as Jews in the Dotan Valley. It is time to stop this campaign of murder against our people. The time has come for the Palestinians to stop trying to be like the Nazis

That was my translation, with a bit of improvement.

Thank you, my friend, Shimon.

Yisrael Medad

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/my-right-word/what-yair-golan-intended-to-say/2016/05/09/

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