Gradual Stabilization of Israel’s Positions
Trump’s decision to announce that he supports Israel’s control over the Golan Heights, as an “indispensable part of Israel”, was an important step after the US embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This could go on and be applied to Israel’s position in the West Bank which will assist the stabilization of Israel’s current contested positions.
The recent US decision is a significant shift from previous American policy which was in line with the European allies. They used to try to be consistent with the United Nation resolutions that consider Golan Heights occupied territories.
Even though the new decision will not change the situation on the ground – Golan has been under Israel’s control since 1967 - this will have important political consequences.
Golan Heights belonged to Syria from 1947 to the Six-Day War between Israel and the Arab countries. Israel has taken control of the territory since the end of that war.
Israeli sources usually insist on the strategic importance of these heights to defend Israel, but the fertile lands in the area are a big resource for Israel’s fresh water.
After Arab countries’ defeat in the war, Syria accepted to sign an end of war document with Israel. However, during another war in 1973, Syria tried to acquire the Heights again, which failed and led to another treaty to accept the end of the conflict.
Israel went ahead by its own in 1981 and declared the annexation of Golan Heights to its territories – a similar act to what Russia did with Crimea in 2014.
Israeli troops stationed on the Golan Heights, within 60 kilometers of Damascus, the capital of Syria, have the strategic advantage of watching over and targeting Syrian troops.
Next Step, the West Bank?
The current policy by Trump’s administration in accepting Israel’s positions, despite the UN, the EU and Arab World’s disapproval, indicates that the next move will probably be dealing with the West Bank of the Jordan River.
Netanyahu will test his political fate on April 9th in the general elections in Israel and if he wins, he will be in power at least until August when his corruption case goes through the due judicial course. He was elated at Trump’s move about Golan that he compared Trump with Cyrus, the Persian king who gave Jews their ancestors’ lands, Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary who made the 1917 statement about Jews rights to reside in Palestine, and Harry Truman, the US president who recognized Israel in 1948.
Netanyahu wants the complete control over Jordan Valley and the West Bank. This is necessary for the annexation of the region where hundreds of thousands of Israelis live.
In return, Israel’s prime minister will recognize the State of Palestine providing they do not establish an army and Egypt maintains supervision over the Gaza Strip.
Lands and territories called the West Bank of Jordan River were acquired by Israel similar to Golan during the Six-Day War and they are of strategic importance to Israel.
The official statement by Trump’s administration about recognizing Israel control over West Bank will probably be issued a few weeks after the general elections in Israel.
Iran’s Role in the “Deal of the Century”
Trump’s policy toward the occupied lands means a transition from 50 years of American policy in this respect.
This new approach, despite Palestinians’ complaints to the Arab League or United Nations, will stabilize the geopolitics of the region and will make it impossible to return to the terms of the region before the Six-Day War in 1947.
Under these circumstances, Arab countries prefer to suspend the Palestine issue and instead, be concerned with Iran’s threats toward the Arab world. This has narrowed the gap between them and Israel – little later following the US statement on Monday, the UAE insisted on more cooperation with Israel.
It is expected that if Netanyahu wins the election, the American peace plan, which is called Deal of the Century, will be published and seriously pursued.
If Netanyahu loses and Benny Gantz comes to power, Deal of the Century, which has been designed by Jared Kushner, will still be published but might be implemented with caution and in a slower fashion.
Another consequence of Netanyahu’s win would be his role in the mediation between Putin and Trump to make a decision on Assad’s future in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the division of territories of influence in the region between the two superpowers.
Therefore, the role that the Islamic Republic of Iran is playing in the future of the Middle East will be a facilitator for Israel’s interest and desires – a country that Iranian regime does not dare use its name (Israel) in their rhetoric.