Jerusalem Has a Plan to Develop the Golan. It Should Follow Through

Forty years ago this month, the Knesset decided to extend Israeli law to the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the Six-Day War. In 2019, the White House gave official recognition to Israeli sovereignty there—responding in part to Syria’s collapse and the impossibility of returning the territory in exchange for peace with the discredited Bashar al-Assad. Now Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has unveiled a plan to invest 1 billion shekels in the territory, with the aim of expanding its population by 23,000 over the next five years, building two new towns, and expanding existing municipalities. Eyal Zisser comments:

Despite good intentions, very little has changed in the Golan Heights in 40 years. . . . Barely any new communities have been established in the area, and the number of Israeli residents has grown ever so slightly. In the Golan, some 50,000 people, 60 percent of them Druze, reside. In the 1990s and 2000s, a majority of governments in Israel even expressed a willingness to cede the Golan in return for a peace deal with Damascus.

In Syria, the civil war has come to a close. The Arab world is already rushing to welcome Bashar al-Assad back, as are some European leaders. Even Washington has signaled a willingness to do business with Damascus. . . . Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s spokesman said [that] Washington believes Israel’s presence [in the Golan] is vital so long as the country is at war and the Syrian regime lacks international legitimacy. In the future though, when the Syrian state is back on its feet, there will be a need to renew talks with Damascus, which ceased when the Syrian war broke out, on the future of the Golan and the possibility of returning it to Syria in return for the signing of a peace deal with Israel.

In the meantime, Israeli governments continue to declare their commitment to the Golan and determination to keep the territory. . . . All that remains is to see whether the plan moves forward or, as so many of its predecessors, remains just that. Given the new reality taking shape in Syria, . . . what we need now is action, not words.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Golan Heights, Naftali Bennett, Syria

 

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria