Naftali Bennett Should Ask for an Enduring American Commitment to Israel’s Control over the Golan Heights

Last week, reports circulated that the U.S. government had decided to revoke the previous administration’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The reports turned out to be inaccurate, but underscore the importance of securing a reaffirmation from the current White House. Dore Gold writes:

The most important U.S. statement on policy with respect to the Golan Heights was contained in the 1975 letter from President Gerald Ford to Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin, which stated that “the U.S. has not developed a final position on the borders. Should it do so, it will give great weight to Israel’s position that any peace agreement with Syria must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights.”

What made the Ford letter so significant was that it provided the basis for the formulation of U.S. policy by subsequent administrations. . . . American assurances on the Golan Heights were bipartisan and in many respects set the stage for finally recognizing Israeli sovereignty on March 25, 2019.

The new U.S. approach to the Golan Heights was not formally locked in by means of a bilateral treaty. . . . Clearly, further diplomacy is required between Jerusalem and Washington. Perhaps the issue can be settled before the first summit meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Bennett.

Remember, Iran is seeking to encircle Israel with its Shiite militias—in Lebanon, in new bases within Syria, and eventually in Jordan. If U.S. policy over the Golan Heights is interpreted as changing, that might even invite a conflict that neither the U.S. nor Israel is seeking.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Golan Heights, Joseph Biden, Naftali Bennett, US-Israel relations

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia