[An earlier version of this article was published by The Jewish Press (NY) on September 23, 1994, the October 1994 issue of The Caucus Current, and the October 1994 issue of THE MACCABEAN]
WITHDRAWAL FROM THE GOLAN?
A Dangerous Idea That Just Won't Go Away
By Bernard J. Shapiro
Last week United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher toured the Middle East trying to get the peace talks started. Everyone seemed eager to get the talks going again, except the Palestinians who want to use the deportee issue to force concessions from the Americans and Israelis. No party seemed more anxious for the talks to resume than the Syrians, who sincerely believe that a return of the Golan Heights is within sight.
Labor Party Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is primarily responsible for this sudden Syrian interest in negotiation with Israel. He has launched "trial balloons" about an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan. He has given the Israeli public mixed signals saying that Israel would never "come down from the Golan," and then saying there would be "withdrawal on the Golan" but not "withdrawal from the Golan." Rabin has further confused the public by saying that Jews living on the Golan would not be affected, since the withdrawal he envisions involves just the Israel Defense Forces. His negotiators have told the Syrians that the" extent of the withdrawal" would be determined by the "extent of the peace" offered by Syria.
Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu reported on February 24, 1994 in an interview with David Landau (JTA) in Jerusalem that Israel and the US were discussing a three-stage plan for a total Israeli withdrawal from the Golan. All of this may be confusing to you, and it should. All such talk and negotiation about withdrawal from the Golan is dangerous, misleading, and ultimately harmful to Israel's interest.
In conclusion we find Syria incapable of making peace; that peace is not possible now anyway; that Syria offers Israel nothing; that the Syrians do not deserve the Golan; that the Golan really belongs to Israel; and that war, not peace, is Syria's true intentions. Assad may whisper sweet nothings in Rabin's ear about peace, but I trust that Rabin will not be seduced.