Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter requires the respect of every state’s
territorial integrity. Newly admitted to the UN in 1949, Israel began
almost immediately to encroach beyond its boundaries as agreed under the
1949 Armistice. Fortifications were built in the UN-administered
demilitarized zone, while illegally deployed Israeli soldiers obstructed
UN observers and even threatened to kill them on one occasion. Arab
residents of the area were evicted and their homes looted and destroyed.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution in May 1951
demanding that Israel allow the residents to return. Other resolutions
against Israeli violations of international law followed in 1953, 1956
and 1962, all to no avail.
Prior to the 1967 invasion there were many clashes between Syrian and Israel forces. The former Israeli defence minister, Moshe Dayan, later opined that more 80 per cent of these clashes were deliberately provoked by Israel, explaining that kibbutzim covetous of Syrian land had pressed the Israeli government to invade the Golan Heights. Another Israeli, Mattityahu Peled, who served as a member of the General Staff during the 1967 war, also stated in a newspaper interview that all the incidents were Israeli initiated.
UNSC Resolution 242 of 1967 requiring “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” was ignored by Israel. On 14 December 1981 the Knesset passed the Golan Heights Law, which extended Israeli laws to occupied Syrian areas. The UN Security Council responded to this breach of customary international law by passing Resolution 497 declaring the Israeli legislation “null and void and without international legal effect”. The resolution demanded that the legislation be rescinded. No other country has recognized this de facto annexation, but Israel made no attempt to comply with its legal obligations.
However, the remaining local population had no intention of being absorbed into the occupying state. Following the invasion some 7,000 residents occupying six villages in the north of the Golan were permitted to stay. This was part of a divide-and-rule policy by Israel. The Arab residents of the villages are mostly of the Druze religious community and the rulers of the Zionist state have been trying to develop a Druze buffer zone subservient to Israel in the border region between Lebanon and Syria. These people were required by Israel’s rogue legislation to give up their Syrian citizenship and adopt that of Israel. A six-month general strike followed, and most of the new Israeli identity cards were publicly burned. The Israeli government eventually gave way to the protests and most of the residents still retain their Syrian nationality. Israeli attempts to eliminate the Arab national identity have also been opposed. Indoctrination by unqualified teachers instructing the Hebrew language, Israeli literature and Israel’s version of history is still strongly resisted within this community.The long-standing Zionist greed for the Golan has been realized through the establishment of 33 settlements in the region, and a programme is ongoing to extend this process of colonization (in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention). Only these settlements are allowed to irrigate their crops, giving the colonizers a major competitive advantage over the Arab farmers. Israel also extracts more than its fair share of water from the Jordan River System. Studies published in 2006 indicate that while Israeli territory contributed 11.4 per cent of the total water to the system, the Israeli state extracted 50 per cent of the total. (Syria contributed 31 per cent and extracted 18.5 per cent. Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon all extracted less than their contributions.) The study found Israeli abstraction to be inequitable and unreasonable, and in contravention of international water law.
Within Israel it is generally held as an article of faith that holding the Golan is a guarantee of Israeli security. It is true that in both the wars of 1967 and 1973 the Golan was conquered by armour. Yet this does not take account of modern warfare methods. During the war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006 Merkava tanks were destroyed by Lebanese missiles. (In 2004 the then Israeli chief of staff said in a newspaper interview that the Israeli army would be able to defend any border. Israeli air power, after all, is omnipotent in the region and can inflict serious damage.)
Much of the data for this article are derived from papers presented to the London International Conference on the Golan in 2007.