Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein, Chairman Mark Levenson, Esq. and Director of Special Projects Elizabeth Berney, Esq. released the following statement: The ZOA strongly and with great appreciation praises President Trump’s tweet this morning, which rightfully proclaimed: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”
The ZOA heartily agrees with President Trump that now is the time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Israeli Golan Heights. The President’s tweet is especially welcome and appropriate today – Purim – while Jews throughout the world are celebrating being saved from annihilation by a wicked Persian viceroy centuries ago. Israeli sovereignty over the Golan is a key bulwark against Iran and Iranian-backed terror groups and regimes that threaten the security and stability of the United States, Israel, the entire Middle East, and beyond. There are no viable substitutes for the topographical advantages, early warning locations and strategic depth provided by Israel’s retention of and sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
As President Trump accurately noted, the modern state of Israel has controlled and developed its two-thirds of the Golan Heights for 52 years now. That’s almost three times as long as the 19 years (1948-1967) when Syria occupied the area, and used it to shoot at Jewish farmers in the Hula Valley below.
Israel’s right to the Golan is historically and legally just: As archeological finds including dozens of ancient synagogues and Jewish communities confirm, Jewish history in the Golan dates back to Biblical times and continued for millennia. The Golan was also part of the original League of Nations mandate for the Jewish homeland, and the site of Jewish-owned farms in the late 1800s. (See ZOA Pres. Morton Klein’s detailed testimony to Congress for U.S. Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, on July 17, 2018 here and summary here.)
Moreover, Syria has rejected over 50 years of Israeli and American efforts to reach a “peace deal.”
Most significantly today, Israeli sovereignty over the Golan is essential for preventing Iran from obtaining a land bridge to the Mediterranean, which would facilitate Iran’s export of terror throughout the world.
As then-candidate Trump predicted, Iran has expanded its malign presence in Syria. A few weeks ago, on Sunday January 20, 2019, Iranian troops stationed in Syria fired an Iranian Fateh (“Conqueror”) guided anti-ballistic missile at Israel’s Mount Hermon ski resort. (Israel fortunately intercepted the Iranian missile, using the Iron Dome missile defense system.) The January missile strike was reportedly ordered by Iranian Quds commander Qassem Suleimani.
ZOA Pres. Morton Klein’s Congressional testimony (pp. 17-21) set forth the details of numerous other recent Iranian Quds Forces, Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and Syrian missile, rocket and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) attempted strikes from Syria into Israel, including: (i) July 11, 2018 Syrian UAV launched into northern Israel; (ii) June 24, 2018 Syrian UAV launched towards the Israeli portion of the Golan Heights; (iii) May 9, 2018 Iranian Quds Force launch of 20 rockets from Syria into the Israeli Golan; (iv) February 10, 2018 Iranian Quds Force launch of a UAV into Israeli airspace; (v) November 11, 2017, Syrian UAV crossed into the disengagement (demilitarized) zone, on the Israeli border; (vi) September 19, 2017 Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization launch of an Iranian-built UAV from Syria towards Israeli airspace, intercepted by Israel in the disengagement zone; (vii) April 24, 2017 Syrian UAV entered Israeli airspace; and (viii) additional launches listed in Mr. Klein’s testimony.
This month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exposed that Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces have established the “Golan Terror Network,” to report on Israeli defense daily activity from observation posts in the Syrian portion of the Golan Heights, in preparation for missile attacks on Israel. The Golan Terror Network is led by Ali Musa Daqduq, a senior Hezbollah operative who was trained and received instructions from Iranian Quds Forces commander Qassem Suleimani. Daqduq is also an enemy of America, and planned the raid, abduction and murder of five American soldiers in Karbala, Iraq.
The Trump administration recently took a number of important, praiseworthy, preliminary steps towards U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. In November 2018, the Trump administration voted against (instead of merely abstaining from) an anti-Israel United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Israel for alleged “occupation” of the Golan Heights. This past week, the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report used the more-accurate term “Israeli-controlled Golan” and eliminated the inappropriate term “Israeli-occupied Golan.”
We look forward to the Trump administration’s formal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights – a great step that will enhance vital U.S. security interests and the stability of the Middle East and the entire world.