Pres. Trump Has No Right to Give Syrian Golan Heights to Israel

Ever since Trump became President of the United States, he has ignored both U.S. and international laws.

A few months ago, National Security Adviser John Bolton surprisingly announced that if the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigated any wrongdoing by American soldiers in Afghanistan, the U.S. government would ban ICC Judges from entering the United States and would sanction their assets in U.S. banks.

This represents the height of arrogance and flouting of international law. Instead of serving as a model of a civilized democratic country to the rest of the world, the Trump administration is ignoring and violating several international treaties.

While it is common knowledge that “might is right” in international relations, no previous U.S. President has such flagrantly disregarded the rule of law.

Pres. Trump’s recent foreign policy actions are even more alarming. He has never taken seriously the complexity of the Arab-Israeli conflict. On the contrary, he has ignorantly announced that it is easy to solve the Middle East problem and has irresponsibly appointed his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has no experience in diplomacy and knows nothing about the Middle East, to be in charge of the Arab-Israeli peace plan.

Last year, in another unwise and dangerous decision, Pres. Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which is “tantamount to recognizing Israeli sovereignty over land that is captured in the Six-Day War in 1967,” according to Professor of Law Eugene Kontorovich. In other words, the move to Jerusalem is a violation of international law.

Last week, Pres. Trump shocked the world when he tweeted that the Syrian territory of Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967, is Israeli territory. “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability.” Pres. Trump signed a proclamation on March 25, 2019 with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing next to him in the White House, recognizing the Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Can anyone be so flippant as to make such a grave announcement in a tweet? Just about every nation, except for Israel, condemned Pres. Trump’s unwise announcement. European Union countries, including Germany and France, criticized Pres. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. Iran, Turkey and Egypt also sharply criticized the U.S. President. As expected, Syria declared that it will recover the Golan Heights with “all available means.”

The Golan Heights is one of the contentious territories that has been subject to serious negotiations between Syria and Israel, as part of the overall peace plan between Israel and Arab states. Announcing that Golan Heights belongs to Israel destroys what little remains of the United States claim that it is an impartial mediator. Rather than help the parties move toward peace, the United States has once again taken an unwise initiative that has aggravated the situation.

A German government spokesperson was quoted in The Independent newspaper saying, Berlin “rejected unilateral steps” to redraw national boundaries, adding: “If national borders should be changed it must be done through peaceful means between all those involved.”

The French foreign ministry stated that it did not recognize the Israeli annexation [in 1981] of the Golan Heights and that Mr. Trump’s statement is “contrary to international law.”

Palestinians quickly blasted Pres. Trump’s decision, saying it undermined the chance for peace in the region. Palestinian spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said any action taken on the decision would be “a violation of the UN resolutions, have no value whatsoever and would remain mere ink on paper.” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Executive Committee, called it an “assault on international law.”

Pres. Trump has foolishly undermined Israel’s safety by provoking all Arabs and Muslims against Israel and the United States rather than taking measures to calm the situation and find a peaceful solution.

To complicate matters further, Pres. Trump’s controversial announcement came shortly before the April 9 Israeli elections which will determine whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will retain his post. The U.S. action is not only misguided, but also an interference in the elections of a foreign country, boosting the chances of victory for Netanyahu, who faces indictment for corruption. At a time when the U.S. is accusing Russia for interfering in the 2016 American presidential elections, the U.S. itself is blatantly interfering in Israel’s elections!

And for those Armenians who naively expect Pres. Trump to recognize Artsakh as Armenian territory, just like he recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, I hate to disappoint them by stating that Armenia does not have Israel’s political clout in Washington. Secondly, Armenians should not validate the unjust handover of the occupied Syrian territory of Golan Heights to Israel by comparing it to Artsakh—an historical Armenian land given to Azerbaijan by Stalin.

Armenians should also be concerned that Pres. Trump’s flawed argument jeopardizes the recovery of Western Armenian lands occupied by Turkey. Saying that after 52 years of occupation, Golan Heights belongs to Israel, Pres. Trump is undermining the Armenian claim to Western Armenia since it has been occupied by Turkey much longer than that! No matter how long those territories remain occupied, they will always belong to Armenians just as the Golan Heights belongs to Syria!

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Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the United Armenian Fund, a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American organizations. He has been decorated by the president and prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

19 Comments

  1. I agree, the Golan Heights must be returned to Syria, otherwise their will be no peace in the area. The same for Palestine, whereby the West Bank must be given back to them. Also shame on the U.S. to tell Israel to move their capital of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Those Historic four Quarters should be preserved as they have been for centuries. On top of this Israel whom went thru a Genocide refuses to recognize the well documented Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 by the Turkish regime. The world powers must wake up & straighten these issues otherwise their never will be peace in those areas.

  2. I am from Vancouver,Canada and I wanted to say that the Golan Heights always belonged to Syria and continues to be so.Who cares what Trump says about the Golan Heights.Also Palestine is occupied and belongs to the Palestinians not the Israeli’s from the border with Lebanon to the border with Jordan and the border with Egypt.

  3. I hope the Armenian government is wise enough to stay out of this. I don’t know why any Armenian will even try to take side in this Israeli-Arab conflict. I understand that Israel hasn’t been the most friendly country to Armenia but I don’t think antagonizing the strongest state in the region is a good idea. I hope the new administration will take steps to counter Azerbaijani lobbying in Israel. Previously, Israeli officials who visited Yerevan made it clear that they are ready to sell weapons to Armenia. The best way to neutralize Israeli weapons sold to Azerbaijan is by cooperating with Israel itself. AS for Syria, I remember how only a few months before the uprising in Syria, Assad and his wife were Erdogan’s special guests in Turkish resorts for the holidays. it is not like Syrians are our friends or allies.

    • “The best way to neutralize Israeli weapons sold to Azerbaijan is by cooperating with Israel itself.”

      That’s exactly the kind of absurd statement that a typical U.S. government official would make. The Israelis sell weapons to Azerbaijan, because they make a lot of money from it. They certainly don’t give the slightest damn about all those Armenian soldiers who have been killed by Israeli military weapons.

      Furthermore, the Republic of Armenia, has never shown the slightest bit of antagonism towards Israel, unlike Israel, who has always shown antagonism towards the Armenian people, such as: assisting Turkey for so many years in its all-out campaign of denialism against the Armenian Genocide; being supportive of Azerbaijan’s ludicrous “Khojaly genocide” claim; decreasing the size of Jerusalem’s historic Armenian Quarter (which today is nothing more than a tiny street); and selling at least five billion dollars worth of highly sophisticated military weapons to Azerbaijan, whose ultimate wish is to commit a genocide against the Armenians of Artsakh.

      As for those Israeli officials who are “ready to sell weapons to Armenia,” they know very well that Armenia doesn’t have the money to buy their expensive military weapons.

      As for Azerbaijan, their officials are always special guests in Israel, and not just for the holidays, but 365 days out of the year.

    • Yerevanaian,

      I knew that my comment is not going to be the most popular here but getting compared to a US government official was kind of funny. Your response is typical of Armenians who mix emotions and politics. Israel sells weapons to Azerbaijan for the same reason that Russia, Belarus, South Africa do. It is business. Israel does not care about what Armenians think simply because Armenia is not that important. As you can see it is the law of the jungle. It has always been like this and always will be. Get used to it.
      Armenia has two options, either pretend that Israel is not important and do what so far has been doing or be more proactive and try to counter Azerbaijani lobbying in Israel and Jewish communities in US. We tried the first option for two decades and we haven’t got anything out of it, so maybe it’s time to have a new approach. Your comment is full of misconceptions. Most Armenians tend to mix the actions of a few bribed Israeli or Jewish individuals or organizations with official Israeli policy. The truth is that Israel is not even interested in being part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. You mentioned the Armenian quarter in Jerusalem. With all due respect, I do not care about some old city in some desert which is considered “holy” by some. If recognizing it as the capital of Israel will provide us with weapons to neutralize Azerbaijani drones then so be it. You see, I am actually the one who thinks about the lives of our soldiers, instead of some old buildings in some desert.

    • Ritoola,

      In your comment, you are doing nothing more than attempting to defend Israel’s antagonism towards the Armenian people. It is for this reason that you give the impression of being a U.S. government official. This is certainly not funny; it’s very sad.

      Recognizing Jerusalem as the “capital” of Israel, or giving Prime Minister Netanyahu a big kiss on the forehead, will still not enable Armenia to obtain Israeli military weapons, because it just doesn’t have the money to buy those expensive weapons; nor does it have the money to counter Israel’s powerful Azerbaijani lobby.

      “The truth is that Israel is not even interested in being part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.”

      Actually, the truth of the matter is that Israel is an accessory to Azerbaijan’s endless, brutal campaign of terrorism against the Artsakh Armenians.

      “Israel sells weapons to Azerbaijan for the same reason that Russia, Belarus, South Africa do.”

      But yet, many more Armenian soldiers have been killed by Israeli military weapons than by the military weapons of the other countries. You must be very foolish to actually compare the much larger quantity and much higher sophistication of Azerbaijan’s Israeli weapons arsenal to that of its Russian, Belarusian, or South African weapons arsenals.

      In terms of the Armenian Quarter, it certainly makes perfect sense that you don’t care about this historic Armenian place, which has fallen into decay. The truth of the matter, is you don’t care about anything that has to do with Armenians; from your comments, it shows that it’s Israel that you care about.

    • Yerevanian

      Israel’s antagonism towards Armenian people is only in your head. Israel has more important things to do than waste its time on some unimportant country called Armenia. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will undoubtedly strengthen Armenia-Israel relations and there is absolutely no doubt that such a move will lead to Israel providing Armenia with sophisticated weapons at a minimum price. For your information, Georgia which has a smaller military budget compared to Armenia has previously purchased Israeli drones. Apparently, weapons and their prices are not your strongest side. Armenia only needs counter drone jamming technology to neutralize Azerbaijani drones. Israeli drones are more potent simply because they are better. Now, we are supposed to hate Israel because they make better weapons?! Belarus sells every thing that Azerbaijan wants, only difference is that their weapons are not good. Armenians have their historic places all over the world, from Krakow in Poland to Kolkata in India. How many Armenians are left in Krakow or Kolkata? Almost none. Why is that you are not so concerned about Krakow’s Armenian neighborhood? Or maybe it is only “Armenian places” in Israel that matter?

    • There you go again, in your attempt to defend Israel. Just like a typical U.S. government official, you never see anything wrong with Israel’s antagonism towards the Armenian people.

      The Israelis would obviously be very stupid to sell their highly sophisticated military weapons to Armenia at minimum price, when they are able to sell them to Azerbaijan at full price (you don’t seem to comprehend what it is that you write).

      “Belarus sells everything that Azerbaijan wants, only difference is that their weapons are not good.”

      That indeed sounds very stupid! If their weapons are not good, then Azerbaijan would obviously not buy them. And that’s the reason why the Azerbaijanis buy the majority of their military weapons from Israel.

      “Why is it that you are not so concerned about Krakow’s Armenian neighborhood?” The topic we are discussing is not about Poland; it’s about Israel. Furthermore, Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter is much more significant and much more historical than Krakow or Kolkata.

    • First off, if we are going to have a mature dialogue, let’s act like grown up people and refrain from making stupid speculations about each other. With all due respect, it’s none of your business whether I am a US government official or not. You failed to come up with any concrete examples of your perceived Israeli antagonism. Israeli weapon sale to Azerbaijan, while immoral, is merely business, not some sort of ideological or historical animosity towards the Armenian people by Israel.

      Looks to me you are the one who doesn’t comprehend that there are things in politics which are far more important than money. Yes, Israelis will sell their sophisticated weapons to Armenia at minimum price if they get something from Armenia which is far more valuable than money for them. To put things in context, Israeli total export in 2017 was more than 60 billion dollars. Total Israeli weapon sale to Azerbaijan that same year was 170 million dollars. That is almost a quarter percent of their total exports. So, while Azerbaijan used to spend billions on Israeli weapons that amount has significantly dropped the last few years and plays a much smaller role in Israeli military industry. Recognition of Jerusalem as their capital by a country which is actually in this region(not Vanuatu or Ivory Coast) is far more important than some business deals.

      Maybe, your topic is Israel. My topic is Armenia and Armenian people. So, it perfectly makes sense to compare the Armenian community in Jerusalem with the rest of Armenian communities around the world. If you don’t like the Krakow example, I can give you another one. Do you know how many Armenians used to live in Iran some 50 years ago? Almost 300 thousand, one of the largest Armenian diaspora communities at the time. Do you know how many of them are left? Probably less than 30 thousand. So, why do they leave? Partly because they are going to have better living standards in West and partly because they are being treated as second class citizens. The same reasons that makes Armenians leave Jerusalem. Again, we don’t see your outrage accusing Iranians of being antagonistic against Armenians.

    • Well, by defending Israel’s antagonism towards the Armenian people, as you’ve been doing so far, is not the definition of being mature; on the contrary, that’s the definition of being anti-Armenian. As for “concrete examples” of Israel’s antagonism towards the Armenian people, my comments from above are filled with them; but of course, a defender of Israel, such as yourself, will certainly never accept any of those concrete examples.

      Don’t even try to minimize the Israeli sale of at least five billion dollars worth of highly sophisticated military weapons to Azerbaijan. It’s even possible that by now, this sale may have exceeded over ten billion dollars. The Israelis and Azerbaijanis, have been very secretive about all of this.

      By continuously placing Armenia in the same region as Israel, really shows how poor you are in geography. Armenia is in the South Caucasus; Israel is in the Middle East.

      “My topic is Armenia and Armenian people.”

      No, your topic revolves around your persistent attempt to defend Israel, and to minimize its wrongful behavior towards the Armenian people.

      You are indeed extremely foolish to compare Israel’s behavior towards the Armenian community of Jerusalem with Iran’s behavior towards its Armenian community. Israel’s Armenian community, revolves around the extremely historic Armenian Quarter; and the Israelis are doing everything possible to take it over. Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter, today, is nothing more than a tiny street. On the other hand, all of Iran’s historic Armenian buildings are still there. Not the slightest bit of damage has ever been inflicted upon Iran’s Armenian schools, Armenian cultural centers, and Armenian churches (which number over two hundred). In terms of Iran’s Armenian population, yes, it’s definitely much less than what it had been before. Prior to the departure of the Shah in 1979 (who was taken out by the United States), there were over four hundred thousand Armenians living in Iran; today, there are approximately one hundred thousand Armenians living in Iran (which is still a lot, but of course, much less than before). And the reason why many Armenians departed from Iran (after 1979), certainly had nothing to do with being antagonized by the Iranian government; as a matter of fact, many more Iranians departed from Iran than Armenians. Furthermore, even today, the Armenians are the most respected people in Iran, and are treated even better than the Iranians. So therefore, what explains the reason why many Armenians ended up departing from Iran after 1979? The answer is that they obviously did not want to live under the rule of Islamic law.

      Although most of the Armenians that departed from Iran ended up moving out West (America and Western Europe), in search of a “better life,” that hasn’t exactly been such a good thing. Many of them, just like so many of the other Armenians from the Middle East and Armenia, who moved out West, have unfortunately assimilated completely into those Western cultures, which is equivalent to being a victim of the Armenian cultural genocide (which is currently taking place today in the Western countries). At least back in Iran, the Armenians have always been strongly attached to their identity, and have always done a very good job of preserving their culture and language.

  4. The Roman town of Caesarea Philippi is part of the foothill of the Golan Heights where Jesus said to Peter “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (little stone), and upon this rock (the entire hill is a monolith) I will build my church; and the gates of hell ( tourist spot there as Cave of Pan ) shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16)

    You can google the Cave of Pan in Google map: 33.2488437,35.6944376 where Jezebel throw baby sacrifice to lure Baal to come out for rain, Greek called it the grotto of Pan, and King Philip built the temple of Augustus along with many recesses (alcoves) for a collection of idols like the Pantheon of Rome.

    The Church was built on Jesus our Rock above all the world religions below. That is why the cave of Hell cannot defeat the body of Christ.

  5. The one who this Israel should give up the Golan heights ignores at least one important fact. Golan heights were a part of the land of Israel, these lands which were given by the nations assembly as a mandate to the United Kingdom to prepare for establishing a Jewish State on. They made an illegal agreement with France in 1923, which they got from France the oil rich Mosul area and incorporated it into what became Iraq, and in return they gave up OUR Golan heights to France. French has nothing to do with it as its own and made it a part of their colony Syria. Despite the Jewish majority living there back then. A year later, again, the same United Kingdom gave 77% of our country to the Hashemite family of Hijaz, after the Saud Family took over the Saudi Arabia and deported the Hashemite family, and the Brits established the Kingdom of Jordan for them, again, illegally, on the majority of what’s left of Israel’s land.
    The agreements made by Britain and Arab families from the Saudi Arabia or the French compensating them with our land are illegal and do not apply to Israel.

  6. In terms of the article from above, it was a well-written article, consisting entirely of facts; however, those Zionist schmucks out there, as usual, will never accept the horrible crimes committed by their illegitimate, genocidal, terrorist “homeland of Israel.” As I’ve said before, there isn’t the slightest bit of difference between them and the Turks (which also includes the Turkbaijanis). And as I’ve said before, how enormously better this world would be without the likes of Turkey, Israel, and Azerbaijan (Turkbaijan).

  7. Well, when Israel realized that they will never be a world SUPERPOWER, therefore, they decided to be the world NUISANCE. Trump’s decision is a living proof of that.

  8. I wholeheartedly agree with Yerevanian. Such a case was displayed on Sep 30th of 2000 when Israeli army sniper shot and killed a twelve years old Palestinian young kid fleeing eith his father the crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian security forces. Yes, they cry holocaust, yet they commit one, go figure.

  9. ritooli,” I don’t think antagonizing the most powerful state [Israel] in the region is a good idea”. ROFLOL, please, ritooli, spare me with your hogwash, but let me remind you of the 1976 ‘ Yom Kippur ‘ war of Israelis against the Egyptian forces, where Israelis lost over 300 tanks and got their buttocks handed over on a silver plate by brave Egyptian soldiers. In addition, let me remind you of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, where 375 Israeli so-called,most powerful tanks, Merkavas, entered Lebanon in the operation to neutralize Hezbollah, only to be met by resilient brave Hezbollah ‘MILITIAS’ where they destroyed 50 Merkava tanks out of 375, with RPG-29s, and forced the, ” most powerful soldiers (lol) in the region” to tuck their tails between their hind legs and run for cover. Also, we Armenians don’t need no Israeli technology to keep us safe, they can keep their drones, we have MIG-oyan 29’s, 31’s to destroy their drones and keep our homeland safe. No worries.

  10. I also think that Armenia should recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Objectively speaking it is Jewish land and Christians including Armenians have quarters there and will continue to live on that soil. It will be a good gesture. Armenians except in Lebanon are not sizeable in Arab lands anymore and I think the majority of Mid East Armenians’ future lifesin settling in Armenia. That region is unsustainable. Except Israel I don’t see a brilliant future there. Armenia is a Christian nation who faced extinction so in this case we must understand the Jewish position as well. They bleeded for ages to have this and for sure will not leave it to 3rd parties who have larger lands and populations. Even many Arabs don’t go for it and left that claim now so we should not be more pro Arab than the Arabs themselves. We paid our “unfinishing debt” to Arabs longtime ago. We bleeded in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon for decades. We still contribute when we see parts we can contribute positively like sending doctors and deminers to Syria but I think enough is enough.

  11. With the exceptions of Israel and America, I agree with the rest of the world that Jerusalem should never be recognized as the capital of Israel. The two Zionist states of Israel and America (with their slogan of: Israel comes 1st, America comes 2nd, and the rest of the world doesn’t count) persistently reject the fact that Jerusalem is as much a historic Christian city, and is as much a historic Muslim city, as it is a historic Jewish city. Therefore, Jerusalem should be a city state, as opposed to being a part of any particular country.

    In terms of “bleeding in Iraq and Syria”, who caused all of that enormous destruction in those two countries? The answer is the United States, along with its ally, ISIS.

    In regard to the historic Armenian community which thrived in Palestine prior to the illegal creation of Israel in 1948, it has become almost extinct under the rule of the Israelis:
    http://www.asbarez.com/86587/armenians-in-jerusalem-politics-of-survival-in-the-holy-land/

    “The Armenians of Jerusalem form one of the oldest Armenian communities outside of Armenia.”

    “But this community is more than just old and Armenian. The community also controls through the Armenian Church, at least a part of every major Christian Holy Site in the region, including the birthplace and crucifixion of Jesus, and the Tomb of the Virgin Mary.”

    “With such a rich cultural legacy, one might guess that the Armenians of Jerusalem are strong and thriving. They are not. If the Old City were divided up today, the Armenians might barely command one street. They certainly would not lay claim to an entire Quarter, as they have for centuries.”

    “The survival of the community is today in peril. The population is dwindling. Armenian property rights are under attack.”

    “George Hintlian is a Jerusalem historian and a prominent member of the Armenian community. He had been my introduction to the Armenian community when I arrived earlier this year.”

    “The Israelis want to take over the Armenian Quarter,” “says Hintlian.”

    “There had been 35,000 Armenians-some say more-in the region prior to 1948. There are about 2,000 in the region today, of whom 500 live in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City.”

    “There’s also the intangible difficulty of simply living in Jerusalem. ‘People are psychologically crushed,’ says Hintlian. Israeli policies-Hintlian calls it ‘harassment’-work to encourage Armenians to leave.”

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