A one-time opportunity for Israel 

Source: A one-time opportunity for Israel – Israel Hayom

Michael Oren

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw ‎American troops from Syria shocked many in the ‎United States and the Middle East.

While in Israel ‎most of the public discourse revolves around the ‎challenges in this process, we seem to be ‎largely ignoring the question of what opportunities ‎it may present. For one, could Israel, as ‎compensation, secure a pledge from Washington to ‎help it in times of war and on other vital ‎diplomatic issues?‎

Given the recent discovery of Hezbollah’s grid of ‎terror tunnels and Iran’s attempts to upgrade its ‎offensive capabilities, it is reasonable to assume ‎that Israel is closer than it has ever been in the ‎last decade to a war in the northern sector. This could prove highly complex from a ‎military standpoint and even a legal-diplomatic one: Most of Hezbollah’s arsenal of 130,000 projectiles is hidden under civilian homes. ‎Neutralizing them would require investing ‎considerable military resources and likely ‎entail large civilian losses.‎

It is important to remember that in the last four ‎military campaigns since 2006, Israel has had to ask ‎the United States for additional ammunition, and it ‎would probably have to do the same in a future war. ‎Israel would also likely need diplomatic and legal ‎backing to defend it against condemnations in ‎the U.N. Security Council and the International ‎Criminal Court.‎

The same opportunity exists regarding the situation ‎opposite Hamas in the Gaza Strip: Israel can win ‎a U.S. commitment for the post-Hamas era ‎there. Naturally, the IDF is capable of removing ‎Hamas from the Gaza Strip on its own, but the ‎question is who would take its place. ‎

Understandings could be reached with the ‎U.S. – and through it, the Sunni world – on Gaza’s rehabilitation and the ‎establishment of an economic infrastructure for the civilian population there.‎

As Israel prepares for military campaigns in its ‎north and its south, as part of my position as ‎deputy minister for public diplomacy at the Prime ‎Minister’s Office, I am promoting a first-of-its-kind initiative to develop the Golan Heights. ‎

The goal is to have more than 100,000 Israelis move ‎to the area over the next decade, thereby increasing ‎the Israeli population there by five times, and ‎establish the necessary industrial and ‎transportation infrastructure.‎

My efforts have already gained widespread ‎support domestically and internationally.

Now, ‎given the fragile situation in Syria, Israel must ‎reach a comprehensive understanding with the U.S. on ‎recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan ‎Heights. This would send a message to our ‎enemies about the decisive American position on the eternal Israeli ownership of the Golan ‎Heights.‎

It would be a good idea to make a large portion of ‎these commitments public in multiple languages. Such ‎a move would bolster the U.S.’s somewhat bruised ‎image in the Middle East and even reinforce its ‎ability to promote diplomatic processes and its ‎position as a very effective mediator in possible ‎peace negotiations. ‎

It is no secret that during the Obama ‎administration, the U.S. lost some of its status ‎in the region. The Trump administration has taken ‎several steps – from striking Syrian assets in ‎response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use ‎of chemical weapons to pulling out of the 2015 ‎nuclear deal with Iran – to improve this situation. ‎

A commitment to aid Israel would be a continuation ‎of this policy of improvement, presenting multiple ‎possibilities not only for Israel but also for the ‎Trump administration. ‎

The recent changes in the region present a one-time ‎opportunity for Israel, and we should take advantage ‎of it.‎

Michael Oren is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. He currently serves as deputy public diplomacy minister.

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One Comment on “A one-time opportunity for Israel ”

  1. Peter Hofman Says:

    Repeating :
    Perhaps there is a deal made .
    Let see what happens in 6 months, a kind of Kennedy deal .
    Will the Golan heights be recognized as Israeli real estate by the USA in a couple of months?

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