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ISRAEL: Double talk to Syria, and tax benefits to Golan

A previous post here discussed the recent exchange of threats between Israel and Syria and the chances of regional war. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that attacking Israel would cost him his regime. Although there is speculation that Lieberman's words were really aimed at officials in the political system who support talks with Syria, this didn't help. It also enraged the political system. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a reassuring statement -- and orders that ministers stay off the topic.

Good advice. Next thing you know, Israel's pushing legislation for tax benefits to some 30 Israeli communities in the Golan Heights. Most Israelis do not view the Golan as occupied territory or even controversial. Israel annexed the land in 1981, captured from Syria in 1967. The move was not internationally recognized.

Does this reassure Syria? Hardly. This is proof that Israel does not want peace, Syrian officials said Wednesday. But it does reassure Israelis opposed to a peace treaty with Syria that would cost Israel the Golan. Lawmaker Carmel Shama of the Likud Party, who chairs the parliament's Golan lobby, said the bill makes a clear statement about the future of the Golan. He also said the vote heralds the disintegration of the main opposition party, Kadima. 

The vote was as much about politics as regional diplomacy.

Kadima issued a statement criticizing Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Netanyahu for refusing to postpone the vote until tension with Syria eases. One would expect those in charge of Israeli policy "to put political considerations aside and stop playing with fire at Israel's expense," it said. Left-wing leader Haim Oron asked Barak if he was voting for the bill just to embarrass Kadima. More to the point, he called the move a reckless deceit: "You applied the bill on the Golan Heights but there are no Druze communities here ... who are you deceiving?"

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Assad by phone Wednesday that if Israel made the mistake of starting a war, it should be put an end to once and for all.

But some have other ideas for relations between Syria and Israel. Ayoub Kara, Israel's deputy minister of regional development, is promoting a plan under which Israel would buy water that flows out of Syria and put it to agricultural use in Golan villages, mostly Druze (the same ones that won't be getting those tax benefits).

"I believe in economic peace between Israel and Syria," he said, "without getting into the political issue." Both sides will gain, said Kara, who presented his initiative to U.S. Ambassador to Israel James B. Cunningham (and also raised the predicament of Ghajar). Kara, himself a Druze, believes the idea can work, just like the occasional apple export to Syria (yep) and the humanitarian and religious visits he's helped arrange. A delegation on his behalf will travel to Syria soon to discuss the idea, he said.  

-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

Comments () | Archives (4)

The author says, "Israel annexed the land in 1981, captured from Syria in 1967. The move was not internationally recognized".

The media should stop using this innocuous term and begin admitting that the move is illegal - it is against international law to annex land taken by force - period. This is a criminal action, and so is the annexation of East Jerusalem, and not respecting Palestinian Right-of-Return, and building settlements on occupied lands and collective punishment, and much much more.

When are we going to see that this is a criminal state - in violation of international law and in violation of Jewish morality.

This country brings its troubles upon itself. It motivates international rage from its injustices which becomes international anti-Semitism as the rage and frustration increases.

We need to just stop Israel - period - like all criminals - because Israel is not interested in peace or sincere negotiations - only in criminal aspirations.

It seems that Israel is the ONLY country in history, that after a legitimate war, in which, among other belligerent countries, Syria participated, is required to return conquered territory. It's sheer audacity! All the countries around it declared total annihilation on it, and EXPECT to be "compensated" for losing???! If we just turn a little south, and realize that from 1948 to 1967, Jordan was holding on to Jerusalem without letting ONE JEW enter any holy places, and descecrating all the Jewish cemeteries and other synagogues there - where was the international outcry? This is hypocricy multiplied to rediculousness!
The Jewish State should give nothing back. If the Palestinians wanted peace, the Gaza strip would be full of hotels, and would rival the Tel Aviv waterfront. Let's not kid ourselves: The Arabs just hate a successful enterprise right in the middle of the Middle East. Let's start spending Arafat's hijacked millions on helping the Gazans build new schools, new businesses and other money and peaceful enterprizes.

More info to come...

So Israel is giving its citizens tax breaks to live in land that does not belong to them in the first place. I would say it's none of our business, except the U.S. supports Israel with money, weapons and silence. In my opinion, we should stop that.

It is not the first time that unashamed brazenness led to military conflicts, the results of which in the meantime a lot of countries are suffering from now (Islamicist terrorism); just one pertinent example:

The Syrian Golan Heights were captured by Israel on 9–10 June 1967 in the course of the Six-Day War.
In 1997, years after Dayan, the Israeli Defense minister during the Six-Day War, died, an Israeli journalist, Rami Tal, published conversations he had with Dayan in 1976.
In that conversation Dayan claimed that 80 percent of the cross-border clashes between Israel and Syria in the years before the war were a result of Israeli provocation :

»I know how at least 80 percent of the clashes there started. In my opinion, more than 80 percent, but let's talk about 80 percent. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plough someplace where it wasn't possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was.«

»I made a mistake in allowing the Israel conquest of the Golan Heights. As defense minister I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time.«

Dayan also portrayed the desire of the residents in the Kibutzim beneath the Golan Heights that they be captured as stemming from the desire for their agricultural land and not primarily for security reasons.



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