A former officer in the Israeli Defense Forces says while a recent request that the U.S. recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights isn't new, it's more likely to meet with success now that there's a pro-Israel occupant in the Oval Office.
Over the past few weeks, Israel has targeted a number of Iranian targets in Syria. In the midst of rising tension in the Golan region, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly requested for the United States to acknowledge Israel's longstanding sovereignty over the Golan Heights – an area that's strategically important for his country's defense.
"The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security," Netanyahu said in Jerusalem on January 7, adding that Israel "will never leave the Golan Heights."
OneNewsNow spoke with former IDF officer Miri Eisin, who explains some of the history of that region.
"For the past five decades, the region has been divided between Israel and Syria," she explains, noting that since 1981 Israel has occupied "the Western part and [has even] formally annexed it, but without any international recognition."
Having once served as the head of the combat intelligence corps for the IDF and assistant to the director of military intelligence, Eisin provides incredible insight to Netanyahu's motives.
"Netanyahu is hoping that a supportive U.S. administration – [one] that is not averse of questioning long-held international norms and opinions – will be the first to recognize Israel's de-facto rule over the Golan Heights," she offers.
The former IDF officer points out that previous prime ministers, including Netanyahu, "were willing to negotiate with Syrian presidents the return of the Israeli-held Golan Heights in exchange for a peace treaty." Eisen shares. "[But] the last seven years of horrific civil war in Syria [has] persuaded most Israeli leadership [that there's no option to return] the strategically-dominating area to the murderous regime in Syria."
A second possibility, she explains, could be the prime minister's recognition this may be an appropriate time "to get international recognition to Israel's control of the Golan Heights as part of the international efforts to bring the Syrian civil war to an end."
For the past seven years of civil war in Syria, the Syrian Golan Heights was occupied by "rebels aligned with Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State," says Eisen.
"[Although they remained] focused on their main threat and enemy, the Syrian Assad regime, they were [also] certainly committed enemies of Israel," she continues – admitting that "it is hard to hypothesize how these global jihadists [would have] acted if they were situated above Israeli villages in the Jordan Valley in Northern Israel."
In a concluding statement, Eisen stresses that Israel "has defended itself by itself" and hasn't "[relied] on other countries to fight its wars or man its borders." That said, however, she fully acknowledges the Jewish nation "has had a long-standing, close-knit strategic relationship with the U.S. that includes strategic arms sales, security funding and international political backing – most visibly in the U.N. Security Council."
Eisen recognizes that Netanyahu's request for its long-standing ally to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights isn't necessarily a new one. However, with a proven pro-Israel President Trump in office, she is hopeful the request is essentially "renewed, perhaps with more possibility of success."