To Western opponents of the White House’s official recognition of the Golan Heights—seized from Syria during the Six-Day War—as part of Israel, the move rewards the acquisition of territory by force and needlessly angers Arab and Muslim allies. Nothing could be farther from the truth, writes Jeff Jacoby:
Those angrily denouncing [the announcement] include the dictators and terror-sponsors who rule Iran, Turkey, Russia, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority. Tellingly, though, there was barely any protest from most Arab governments, which in recent years have come to value Israel as an ally against Iran and its proxies. . . .
Syria’s implosion in 2011 plunged the country into a hellish civil war that eventually included Iran, Russia, Islamic State (IS), and Hizballah. If Israel hadn’t retained the Golan Heights, the plateau would likely have been captured by Iran or IS, and Israel might well have faced an unspeakable existential nightmare. Instead, the Golan Heights remained an oasis of stability and decency amid the savagery of the Syrian war. Israel even made use of the territory to provide free medical care to thousands of Syrian civilians.
If Israel had seized the Golan Heights as an act of aggression, it would arguably have no right to keep the land even after all these years. But in 1967, Israel was the target. It seized the Heights in a defensive war against an enemy explicitly bent on “annihilation.” Syria forfeited its sovereign right to the territory when it was defeated by its intended victim. To claim otherwise is to claim that a belligerent aggressor should lose nothing for waging an unlawful war. That would be folly.
By endorsing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, the Trump administration is sending a message of deterrence to would-be warmongers. It’s a message that should have been sent years ago.