Allowing U.S. oil drilling in Golan breaches UN resolutions

Israel has exploited the crisis in Syria and permitted a U.S. company to drill for oil and gas in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan.

The Israeli Energy Ministry reportedly gave the first oil-drilling permit in the occupied Golan Heights to the New Jersey-based Genie Energy Company after halting the drilling works in the heights for 20 years because of then-peace negotiations with some Arab countries.

The US former Vice-President, Dick Cheney, is the Advisor of the U.S. company whose most shares are owned by Rupert Murdoch, according to the Israeli "Glob" paper.

Drilling works are to cover half of the Golan's area, specifically the area between "Ketsarin" settlement in the north and "Tzemakh" settlement located south Tiberias lake, according to Arabian business website.

This act breaches international law and conventions as the relevant UN resolutions underscore that the decision, taken by Israel to impose its laws, legislations, administrative regulations on the occupied Golan is null and void, and of no legal effect on the international level.

According to Press TV, analysts in energy sector see that the act pushed by the Israeli Energy Minister, Uzi Landau, aims to convey a message that the Golan Heights would not be easily returned to Syria.

"The timing of the decision is directly related to the fact that the Syrian government is not free to deal with the problem and the Syrian Army cannot pose a threat to Israel right now," Yaron Ezrahi, the Israeli political analyst said.

The Syrian Arab Army is fighting the foreign-backed terrorism to restore stability and security across the country.

Last year, SANA quoted the Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, as reporting   that the Israeli cabinet secretly approved Landau's decision to resume oil drilling in the occupied Syrian Golan.

The daily said that the Israeli Energy Minister's ideas have contributed to adopting this decision which aims to increase oil production.

"Several Arab regimes are providing Israel with large quantity of oil and gas," SANA said.

The Golan, which was seized in 1967, is a geographical area that represents the core of Natural Syria- the Sham countries which included Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon.

In 1981, Israel formally annexed the Golan, but this annexation has not been internationally recognized.

B. Qaddour

Forty six years on, people displaced from the Golan in waiting

The situation of tens of thousands of Syrian Arabs displaced from the Golan Heights forty six years ago is still far from resolved. They fled their homes in disputed circumstances during the Six Day War in 1967, when Israel seized the Golan, a strategic strip of land overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. Since then, Israel has prevented the displaced from returning to their homes. In 1981, Israel formally annexed the area, but this annexation has not been recognized internationally. The Syrian government estimates that around 500,000 people remain displaced today, a figure which includes the descendants of those displaced in 1967. Forty six years on, the Golan’s internally displaced population has largely integrated in their current places of residence across Syria. But while they do not face particular humanitarian risks, many continue to express a wish to return to the Golan. The issues of the restitution of their property and compensation for lost or destroyed property are also unresolved. A more immediate concern is that many displaced Syrians continue to be prevented from maintaining ties with their relatives living in the occupied Golan. Regular contact between Syrians living in Israeli-occupied Golan and their displaced family members is not possible, with the exception of specific cases facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Golan remains a potential source of tension and renewed conflict in the region. Israel and Syria have taken part in a series of unofficial talks but formal negotiations have not taken place since 2000. In the summer of 2006, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad restated Syria’s willingness to resume official talks but Israel refused conditioning the reopening of talks on a change in Syrian policy.

The displacement occurred during the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel seized the Golan Heights (hereafter referred to as the Golan), a narrow stretch of land overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. The exact circumstances are subject to controversy, and Syrian and Israeli accounts differ. According to the Syrian government, Israeli forces forcibly expelled the inhabitants of the Golan and destroyed villages and farms, while the Israeli government maintains that these people fled following reports of violence (UN HRC, 25 August 2000; Arnold, 1 February 2000). The Syrian government estimates that there were about 250 villages and farms and 150,000 Syrian inhabitants in 1967. Today five of these villages are still inhabited, with an estimated population of between 18,000 and 25,000 Syrians (UNHRC, 19 October 2004, para. 10; UNCHR, 16 April 2003; Mission of Syria to the UN, October 2004; UNSC, 11 December 2006).

Following the 1967 war, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242 calling for the Israeli armed forces’ withdrawal from the occupied territories and for the respect and acknowledgement of the sovereignty of every state in the area (UNSC, 22 November 1967). Conflict broke out again in 1973 and Syria attempted without success to regain the Golan. The 1973 war prompted the Security Council to adopt Resolution 338 urging Israel on the one side and Syria and Egypt on the other to agree to a ceasefire (UNSC, 22 October 1973).

An Israeli-Syrian ceasefire agreement (the “Agreement on Disengagement”) was signed in 1974, which enabled Syria to regain Quneitra, an area in the Golan emptied of its 50,000 inhabitants and left in ruins following the Israeli occupation (Schneider, 8 May 2001; Khawaja, 2002). The agreement also provided for a UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) to maintain the ceasefire along the UN demarcation line which separates the occupied Golan from the remaining Syrian territory (UNSC Resolution 350 (1974)).

In December 1981, Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan which has since been under the jurisdiction and administration of Israeli law. However, the demarcation line between the Israeli-occupied Golan and Syria is not an internationally recognized border, and therefore people displaced from the Golan are considered internally displaced people (IDPs). No government has recognized Israel’s annexation, and in 1981 the Security Council found that “the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without international legal effect” (UNSC Resolution 497, 17 December 1981). The UN has since reaffirmed this principle on numerous occasions and has regularly urged Israel to allow the internally displaced people to return and recover possession of their properties.

A pressing human rights issue for the displaced people is the separation from their families caused by entry and exit restrictions imposed by the Israeli government on the occupied Golan. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) notes that local communities consider it the single most important issue tied to the occupation (ICRC, 16 March 2007). It continues to be nearly impossible for most of the people displaced from the Golan to exercise their right to respect for family life. Family visits were authorized by the Israeli authorities until 1992, but since then, contact between tens of thousands of Syrians living in Israeli-occupied Golan and their displaced family members has been severely restricted. There are some exceptions, including students, pilgrims and brides, who have been regularly allowed to cross the separation line, under the auspices of the ICRC (ICRC, 21 March 2005 and 28 June 2004; Syria Today, 1 January 2005; UN Special Committee, 23 September 2004, Sect. B).

The repercussions of this ongoing separation which has prevented many displaced Syrians and their families from maintaining social, cultural and family ties have been underlined in interviews conducted by the ICRC in 2007. For example, a man recounts his experience of meeting his family who were displaced to Syria proper after being cut off from them for more than a decade. Separated family members are generally not able to attend funerals, weddings, births and other important family events, although the Israeli government sometimes gives individuals permission on a case-by-case basis. Some families in the town of Majdal Shams in the northern tip of the occupied Golan, where nearly half of the Syrian-Arab population lives, resort to using megaphones to communicate across the valley which divides them from their families in Syria proper (ICRC, 5 June 2007).

In January 2006, the Syrian government expressed concern that Israel was imposing increasing restrictions on the movement of Syrians living in the village of Ghajar (a village which is partly inside Lebanon and partly in the occupied Golan). In a letter to the UN Human Rights Commission, Syria expressed concern at Israel’s plans to build a permanent separation wall through the town, which could effectively lead to the displacement or “transfer” of its population. The letter reported increased restrictions imposed by Israel on Ghajar’s residents, including instructions to villagers to evacuate part of the village (UN CHR, 11 January 2006).

A further issue is the concentration of mines in the area of separation between the occupied Golan and Syria proper. In his report of June 2007, the UN Secretary General reported that owing to the age of the mines and their deteriorating explosives, the danger which they present had increased (UNSC, 5 June 2007).

Neither the return of the displaced population nor compensation for property loss can be envisaged without a peace agreement between Israel and Syria. However, identifying the terms of such a treaty involves finding solutions to key issues of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict, namely access to water resources (the Golan is a significant source of Israel’s water supply), resolution of disputed boundaries, security and the normalisation of bilateral relations (ICG, 16 July 2002; Middle East, July 2007).

Attempts to negotiate a political solution to the conflict between Israel and Syria began in 1991 at a peace conference on the Middle East convened in Madrid. In 2000, negotiations broke down over disagreements over the Golan. The Israeli government had offered to return the Golan excluding the strip along the Sea of Galilee, but the government of Syria insisted on an unconditional Israeli withdrawal to the 4 June 1967 line, which would ensure Syrian access to the Sea of Galilee (MEMRI, 23 Jan 2000; The Guardian, 8 May 2003 and 17 July 2003). Israel wishes to control access to the Sea of Galilee and to address its security concerns before agreeing to withdraw (Ben-Nahum Yonatan, 19 Dec 1995; MEMRI, 24 March 2000). In returning the Golan, Israel would also have to dismantle its settlements in the area (BBC, 31 December 2003, 10 October 2004 and 9 June 2007).

Some analysts suggest that talks have also failed because of the Israeli government ceding to pressure from an American government intent on isolating Syria. Officially, Israel rejected several calls by President Bashar Al-Assad to reopen negotiations (UNSC, 11 December 2006; ICG, 11 February 2004). However, secret talks are reported to have taken place between Israeli and Syrian representatives between September 2004 and July 2006 (BBC, 16 January 2007). The US has largely opposed renewed dialogue with the Syrian government because of its alleged support for Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian Territories and insurgent groups in Iraq (The Guardian, 7 June 2007 and 8 June 2007; ICG, 10 April 2007). Israel has also conditioned negotiations on evidence of change in Syria’s policies towards Hizbollah, Hamas and Iran (ICG, 10 April 2007). Meanwhile, Syria has demanded the presence of the United States as a third party in peace talks (MERIP, 26 July 2007).

Prospects for the restitution of the Golan and the return of the displaced population are also complicated by the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the area, and public opposition in Israel to a withdrawal (UNHRC, 19 October 2004; BBC News, 31 December 2003; Arutz 7, 11 December 2002; ICG, 10 April 2007). The Israeli government has on several occasions publicly stated its intention to continue to expand settlements in the Golan (Washington Post, 30 October 2006; UNGA, 3 May 2007). In 2004, Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs announced a decision to double investment in the Golan, and build nine new settlements (UN Special Committee, 23 September 2004, para.91; UNECSC, 7 June 2004; UNHRC, 19 October 2004). In December 2006, the Interior Minister announced the government’s intention to facilitate accelerated settlement construction near the border with Syria (Foundation for Middle East Peace, February 2007; UNGA, 3 May 2007). A report by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia submitted to the UN’s General Assembly and Economic and Social Council details ongoing settlement expansion in parts of the occupied Golan (UNGA, 3 May 2007). Although figures are not consistent, reports suggest that there are some 40 Israeli settlements and around 20,000 Israelis living in the area (UNSC, 11 December 2006; UNGA, 3 May 2007). Meanwhile, a public opinion poll in January 2004 suggests that a majority of Israelis opposed plans to hand back the Golan to Syria (BBC News, 10 October 2004).

More recent news reports hint that a new series of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria may hinge on the issue of the Golan. In August 2006, President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria said he was interested in peace with Israel but that he would consider war to regain the Golan. In June 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was reported to have sent messages to President Assad that Israel was prepared to give up the Golan in exchange for a peace deal (The Guardian, 7 June 2007 and 8 June 2007). Olmert delivered these messages while a publicised military training exercise was carried out by the Israeli army in the south of Israel, including an attack on a mock Syrian village (The Guardian, 11 June 2007). The Israeli press during this period cited Israeli military and intelligence sources as saying that Syria was increasing its military activities on the border and may be preparing for an attack (The Guardian, 8 June 2007). Some of Golan’s residents also reported an increase in Israeli military activities in the occupied Golan (BBC, 6 June 2007; The Guardian, 11 June 2007). In October 2007, Assad announced that his government would not attend a November peace conference in Washington on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, unless the agenda included negotiations over the Golan (BBC, 1 October 2007). Israel has said that any future agreement with Syria would involve the return of sovereignty to Syria, but with Israel retaining possession of the territory under a lease of at least 25 years (The Guardian, 9 June 2007; Middle East, July 2007).

The Syrian government has regularly presented its concerns regarding the ongoing occupation of the Golan and the return of Golan’s displaced to the UN’s human rights mechanisms and the Security Council. The government has made some efforts to help those displaced from areas bordering the occupied Golan, including building some HOMEs and a hospital in the area (USCR, 2000; IHT, 23 October 2004; Syria Today, 2005).

There has been no significant progress in government plans to facilitate returns to Quneitra, which borders the occupied Golan. The inhabitants of Quneitra, estimated at 50,000 people, were forced to flee during the 1967 war when the town was destroyed by Israeli forces. Although Syria regained control of the area in 1974, the government had made little effort to rebuild Quneitra, keeping the ruins as a memorial to the Israeli incursion and ongoing occupation of the rest of the Golan (Syria Today, March 2005; IHT, 23 October 2004). In March 2005 there were hopes that some of the internally displaced people might be able to return in the foreseeable future, with Prime Minister Naji Otri inaugurating a new hospital and laying the foundation stones for the rebuilding of Adaniyeh and Asheh, two nearby villages destroyed in the 1967 war. However, the reconstruction of the area has since progressed slowly. In view of a possible return, more than 100 people have approached the ICRC with legal claims to ownership of land and buildings in Quneitra (ICRC, 21 March 2005).

Grassroots organizations on both sides of the border have called for the situation of the displaced people to be resolved. Several local groups have formed among displaced Syrians to raise awareness of their plight, such as the Popular Commission for the Liberation of the Golan, but some of these groups also appear to have militant political motives (Syria Today, March 2007; Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 15 November 2006; MERIP, 26 July 2007). Israeli activists have also lobbied their government to restart peace negotiations on the Golan (Middle East Report, 26 July 2007), and in November 2006, journalists and human rights activists participating in an International Media Forum on the Golan in Quneitra called for the right of displaced Syrians to return to their HOMEs to be respected.

The international response to the situation of the Golan has largely been political rather than humanitarian, although UNDOF has maintained its presence and carried out demining activities.

The UN Security Council and the General Assembly as well as the Economic and Social Council have adopted a number of resolutions calling for Israel’s withdrawal from the Syrian Golan in accordance with international principles which underline respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty of every state of the occupied territories. UN resolutions have called for peace negotiations and urged Israel to refrain from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan. The General Assembly has also declared Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the Golan null and void and without international legal effect (UNSC Resolutions 242 (1967), Resolution 338 (1973) and Resolution 497 (1981); UN GA Resolution 61/27 (1 December 2006) and Resolution 61/118 and 61/120 (14 December 2006); ECOSOC, 26 July 2007).

Advocacy has been undertaken at the regional level by the League of Arab States. In March 2006, the Arab League adopted a resolution rejecting all measures taken by Israel which aim to change the legal, physical and demographic character of the Syrian Golan and describing them as null and void and in breach of international convention and of the charter and resolutions of the UN (UNGA, Resolution 6612(125), 7 February 2007).

Following the 1967 war, the UN General Assembly established a “Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories” (UNGA Resolution 2443 (XXIII), 1968). The mandate of the Committee includes reporting to the Human Rights Council on the human rights of the Golan’s IDPs, or “persons normally resident in the areas under occupation but who had left those areas because of hostilities” (for example UNGA 59/33, 31 January 2005 and UNGA 59/125, 25 January 2005). However, since its establishment, the Committee has been denied access to the occupied Golan (UN Special Committee, 8 June 2007).

The UN’s human rights bodies, in particular the Human Rights Council (previously the UN Commission on Human Rights), have regularly urged Israel to allow the internally displaced people to return to and repossess their former homes. In a resolution adopted in November 2006 the Council emphasized that the displaced population of the occupied Syrian Golan must be allowed to return to their homes and to recover their properties (UN HRC, Resolution 2/3, 9 January 2007). The Council also adopted a second resolution concerning the Golan (Resolution 2/4), reaffirming the illegality of Israel’s annexation of the territory and calling on Israel to refrain from “changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan” (UN HRC, 9 January 2007).

No UN agency has adopted a role in monitoring or providing humanitarian assistance to the IDPs in Syria, because they generally do not have any humanitarian needs specifically linked to their being displaced. A number of UN agencies are present in Syria, mainly operating under a development framework. The UN’s development policy framework document for Syria for the period of 2007-2011 makes no reference to Golan’s displaced. This is in contrast to an earlier draft of the UN Development Assistance Framework (2001) which noted the need for UN support in the event of the reintegration of the occupied areas (UN, 2001; UN Syria Office of the Resident Coordinator, December 2000). Given the lack of a peace agreement, plans to support the return of the displaced population and rehabilitation of the Golan have not been developed.

The ICRC is the only international organization assisting the displaced people, though in many cases it is only able to do so minimally. It has operated in Syria since 1967, to restore and maintain family links broken by Israel’s occupation (ICRC, 28 June 2004 and 19 June 2003; Arabic News, 14 November 2002). The ICRC continues to call for the resumption of the family visit programme discontinued since 1992 which enabled people separated from their displaced family members to meet together in Syria once a year for two weeks (ICRC, 23 March 2007).

 

Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

Resistance the Way for the Liberation

 

 

 

On  the 31st anniversary of the national Open Strike by the Syrian Arab Citizens under the yoke of the Israeli occupation in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan on February 14th, 1982, our hero Syrians reiterated that the option of the Resistance against the occupation is the way for the liberation of the occupied Golan.

The steadfast Syrians in the Golan, in a statement read by the Syrian freedom-fighter and dean of Syrian Prisoner, Sidqi al-Maqt, our Syrian brothers reiterated definite and absolute rejection to the Israeli occupation and to its null, void, and illegitimate practices in the Golan Heights.

Our Syrian compatriots underlined the loyalty of the Golan to the Syrian People, Army, and Leadership in rejection to the present conspiracy and ongoing aggression against Syria, asserting the need to pursue national dialogue and fight against armed terrorist groups in Syria.

''encountering the Israeli enemy, we extend our hands to shake the hands of every honest Syrian and embrace him/her and appeal to them to stand against the criminal gangs and their sectarian schemes and rally behind the leadership of President Bashar Al-Assad,'' read the statement.

Our compatriots underscored that Syria is the dearest and above all  and that the 14th of February would ever remain the symbol for rejection Israeli ID's and that the Golan is but Syrian and ever to remain Syrian Arab land and people.

According to International Committee of the Red Cross, Israel's occupation of the Golan severely restricts the ability of its Arab residents to go about their daily lives. In addition, many have relatives across the demarcation line in Syria that they have not seen for years.

Haniya Saleem Bader Eldeen Shams is 59 years old. She has lived in the occupied Golan since 1968 when she came to be married. Her son, Youseef Hussein Shams, explains that his mother's family live on the other side of the demarcation line.

"She used to be as healthy as a horse," he says, "but since 2003 she has suffered a heart attack and has been hospitalized three times. She is always in tears, sad and depressed."

 During a one week trip to Jordan in 2003 was the last time Haniya saw her family. On the last day of the visit, her older brother died of a heart attack but because his body was taken home  to Syria, Haniya was unable to attend the funeral. Her son says this experience broke her health.  Earlier, she had been able to spend one month with her family in Syria in 1990 as part of the ICRC's family visit programme but this was suspended by the Israeli authorities in 1992. Yousef spends around 50 dollars a week on a twenty-minute phone call that allows his mother to talk to her family. "It's expensive," he says "but after she fell sick, I do what I can to help her."  "When she came here, she left her family behind. She did not see them or their children as they grew up. She missed that sense of family. If the family visits were restored, it would compensate for some of those moments and heal some of the injuries."

  "It was a difficult decision to make when I decided to come here," says Najwa Fawaz Abu Shaqra – Amasha. "My family and my father were very sad. They tried to convince me not to come. I had to ignore them to find the strength to stick to my decision and not be overwhelmed by sadness."

 The 24 year old woman left her home in Damascus in 2004 to live with her new husband in the occupied Golan. They had met at University in Damascus where they were both studying. "At first the question of his return to the occupied Golan, was not an issue," she explains, "We saw each other for three years during our studies and we fell in love. My choice then was to leave him or leave my family. It took a year to get the authorization to come here," she adds." When the approval came, I had to seize the opportunity. If I had hesitated it would have been too late."  In addition to the problems of adjusting to a new community, she is not entitled to an Israeli identification card for the first three years of her residence. This means she cannot travel outside Israel and the occupied Golan, cannot study and cannot work. 

Her new husband found work as an English teacher in Beer Sheba, in central Israel and is only home on weekends. She has no family of her own in the occupied Golan, and without family visits across the demarcation line, she does not know when she will see them again. She says the most difficult moment was when she gave birth two years ago. "I wanted my mother," she says, "I was very sad, it was very difficult not to have her there."

"My father was using a megaphone to talk to us from the shouting hill and he became very emotional. He collapsed from a heart attack and died on the spot," explains Aida Kasim Amasha. "I applied immediately for a permit to go to his funeral, but it was refused. I wanted to touch my father one last time."

 The shouting hill is on the Syrian side of the ceasefire line in the Golan and overlooks the village of Majdal Shams on the Israeli occupied side. The families separated since the 1967 ceasefire use megaphones to communicate across the barbed wire that divides them. The 47 year old woman came from Damascus in 1980 to marry her husband in the occupied Golan. Although she studied mathematics, physics and chemistry in Syria before leaving she does not have a permit to work in Israel.  Last year her 83 year old mother died. "She had been sick for a long time and had undergone surgery. But I could not go to see her before she passed away." She says she is now so depressed that she stays indoors most of the time.  She has four brothers and two sisters in Syria but it is not possible to visit them. "Family weddings over there are very sad events for us," she adds," we cannot participate."  The difficulties of her life in the occupied Golan are not new to her. She lost her five year old daughter fifteen years ago. "All my family could do is offer condolences from the shouting hill."

 ''Family is a physical experience," says 93 year old Sheikh Hasan Yousef Basheer. "We need to touch one another, to feel the children climbing onto you." Although his daughters live with him in the village of Majdal Shams, the rest of his family are all on the Syrian side of the 1967 ceasefire line. "Extended family is so important," he says.

 He was able to take part in a family visit organized in 1979 and again in 1990 but the programme was suspended by the Israeli authorities in 1992. "It was like a big wedding," he says, "It was the first time I had seen all my family members since the 1967 war. Everyone was singing, everyone wanted to kiss me and I kissed them all. I was able to stay one month, it was a good time."  Since that last visit his two brothers have passed away, but he still has one brother, a sister, as well as nephews and nieces. He says he hopes to see them again, "as long as God is willing." As a Druze elder, he was able to cross into Syria last September as part of an annual religious pilgrimage facilitated by the ICRC. But he says the pilgrimage is too short, leaving them little more than one evening to visit family.  "When we haven't seen each other in so long, it is difficult to talk. At first there is nothing to say. We need the time to really sit together, to talk and re-establish contact, to reminisce about the old days." "The pilgrimage is too short to do that," he adds, "it just reopens the wound. When I come back I am depressed and sad." He has been married to his second wife since 1994, "but she has never met any of my family on the other side."  "It is not right," he concludes, "people are dying without the chance to see their relatives. We are all human beings; shouldn't we have the right to visit?"

 "In a dream I saw my mother's funeral," says 49 year old Mohasna Sulieman Taweel Merij. "The next morning I learned she had passed way during the night. Her mother had been sick for some time, and she tried to find a way to visit her, but it was impossible. "On the phone my mother kept crying and begging for me to come, but I could not."

 Mohasna Sulieman Taweel Merij points to her family's village in Syria just the other side of the mountain. "She had sent a message the day before her death telling me to call, but our phone was not working. She stayed alive until one in the morning wondering why I didn’t call," says Mohasna. On hearing of her mother's death she tried to sneak across the demarcation line and walk the four kilometres to her family village. Her sons physically restrained her because of the danger of minefields. Mohasna moved from the village of Hadar in Syria proper to the occupied Golan to marry in 1973 at the age of 16. She has been back once in 1990 as part of the family visit programme. Her husband died of a heart attack just after that visit. She can still telephone her family in Syria, but because she is a widow, she says she can only afford a short call every two months. "We spend all the time crying on the phone and I listen to them begging me to come visit." Her worry now is whether she will be able to see one of her brothers who has been sick for the last three years. "We are roughly the same age and we were very close growing up," she explains, "I want to see him again, but I am afraid he will die first. I haven't been with him in 16 years. To see him again would be the most precious moment in my life." Mohasna has three sons and three daughters. One of her daughters lives in Austria and has come home to visit. Mohasna travelled to Austria for three weeks when her daughter gave birth. "It's easier to go to Austria than to my family's village behind that mountain over there," she points in the direction of Syria. "It would take me thirty minutes to walk there."

 

Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

 

 

 

Golan Annexation!

 

 

 

So far 31 years have passed since the Israeli illegitimate annexation of the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights, the sacred land of our ancestors and grandfathers. Not a single day would pass without nostalgia and eagerness to this piece of our souls, bitter tears of our family members, and sighs of dear memories and attachment to the stories of the land, which has ever been living in us. Our elders passed away; but we still remember and are eager more than ever to return home. The Golan is part and parcel of our humanity, feelings, identity, history, resistance, tears  and laughter. I still remember the tears shed by my late father upon embracing and kissing the soil of Quneitra in 1974, the lively most beautiful face ever of my late mother in June 1967, when she fed me some of dry wheat grains after chewing them in fear and in a hurry; they are still the most delicious food I have ever eaten! 

On 14 December 1981, the Israeli Knesset ratified the decision taken by Rabin’s extremist government to annex the Golan Occupied to the Israeli territory. Begin stood on the eve of 1 December 1981 to impudently announce that "The Occupied Golan were in the past a part of the Palestine Territory and that those who established the borders of the States in the Region during the First World War drew arbitrary borders with Syria. Such situation is rectified as of now on, and only those who are unrealistically optimistic believe that Israel will withdraw from the Golan".

It is odd that Begin did not have any kind of connection with Palestine during the First World War other than the Zionist Schemes to usurp it. Throughout and after the Second World War, Begin and the other Zionist terrorists perpetrated many massacres to expel Palestinians from their Homeland. Then he was defending the re-establishment of Palestine’s borders which he had usurped together with its adjacent territories in order to devour more land and expel more Arabs from the Golan, West bank and Gaza Strip. He was very much like the burglar who steals a house and then claims that the next house was once a part of the house he had stolen and seized by force.

The following is the text of the Annexation Decision:

• The Israeli State Law, its jurisdiction and administration shall be applied to the Occupied Golan.

• This Law shall be implemented immediately upon being ratified by the Knesset.

• The Interior Minister is required to implement this Law.

SYRIAN ARAB ATTITUDE AGAINST THE DECISION

Hereunder is the text of the Syrian Arab Statement of 14 December 1981:

Within the framework of the Zionist Enemy aggressive expansionist policy, starting with judaization operations, settlements building, displacing and oppressing, Arab inhabitants the Israeli Enemy Government has taken a decision imposing the Israeli laws in the occupied Syrian Arab territories.

The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, while drawing the attention of the Arab public opinion and the world community to the risk of such procedure and its negative reflections on security and peace in the region and all over the world, would indicate the following:

1. Syria reserves its right to take the appropriate measures against this flagrant infringement of the UN Charter and Resolutions, including Resolution N° 338.

1. Such Israeli decision implies the annexation of the occupied Syrian territories, waging war against Syria and cancellation the cease fire agreement.

1. Such Israeli decision asserts the aggressive and expansionist policy of the offensive Israeli entity and reveals the kind of peace it wants.

The Syrian Government’s political statement on 16 December 1981 included the following:

It is on the Fourteenth Day of this Month that the Israeli Enemy has taken a decision to impose the Israeli laws on the occupied Syrian Arab territories within the framework of its expansionist policy which aims to establish the ‘Great Israel" from the Nile to the Euphrates. Such decision has been taken, following a series of procedures and resolutions taken within the rest of the occupied Arab territories, building of settlements, oppressing and constricting Arab inhabitants to displace them and judaize the occupied regions, right up to declaring Jerusalem as a unified capital of the Hebrew State and applying the civil administration as comprehended for Palestinians autonomy in implementation of the two Camp David Accords. In the light of such events, the Leadership has discussed this question within the framework of our comprehensive vision of the Arab-Israeli struggle and all the surrounding circumstances, and resolved how to confront this national question. In the light of the President’s directives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has:

1. Called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council in order to discuss the perilous situation and to take a resolution to delete the Israeli decision, apply the UN charter and penalize the Israeli Enemy.

2. Contacted all the Security Council members to explain the results and potential problems of the risky situation and requested them all to assume their responsibilities in the field of world peace keeping in accordance with the Charter.

3. Contacted all world states in order to explain such situation and how perilous it is, requested their support and backing. Messages have been addressed to the Non-Alliance Movement, Islamic Conference and African Unity Organization.

4. Has contacted Arab States via their Ambassadors in Damascus and the Secretary General of the Arab League.

Communications with sister Arab Countries will be continued in order to unify the Arab stand, and in order to confront such perilous development. The Government and Leadership are both following with great concern these developments.

The Zionist Enemy government of decision to annex the occupied Syrian Golan to Israel was confronted by all the citizens with complete rejection and denunciation. Inhabitants of the occupied villages, backed by the Arab citizens of the occupied West Bank, attacked the Israeli military vehicles, decried the Israeli expansionist policy. Syrian Arab national personalities of Majdal Shams and Mas’adeh denounced Israel’s expansionist policy; Sheik Soulayman Abou Saleh said in Majdal Shams, his alert village, "We are and will be, for ever, Syrian Citizens; a few decisions enacted by the Israeli Knesset won’t change our belonging to Syria, our mother Homeland". All citizens responded to the comprehensive strike call on 16 December 1981 to protest against the decision of the Golan annexation; schools from all villages went on strike; teachers, pupils and students refrained from attending their schools despite the Israeli Enemy’s threats. Public struggle is still on to this every day.

The Israeli heinous decision to annex the occupied Syrian Golan was also confronted with comprehensive Arab censure and condemnation on all public and political levels. Statements issued by the Arab States asserted that such new aggressive act against Arab Nation was a violation of the international law and revealed the Israeli expansionist schemes. The statements confirmed that all Arab, people and governments are to back Syria in order to restore its right to its national Territory.

For its part, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution N° 497 early on 19 December 1981:

"The Security Council has reviewed the Syrian Arab Republic’s Permanent Representative’s message dated 11 December 1981, and, while reiterating that acquisition of territories by force is rejected as stipulated under the UN Charter, principles of International Law and its express Resolutions, IT:

• Decides that the decision, taken by Israel, to impose its laws, legislations, administrative regulations on the occupied Golan is null and void, and of no legal effect on the international level.

• Requests Israel, the occupying Country, to immediately cancel, without any further delay, its decision.

• Declares that all provisions of Geneva Treaty, of 12 August 1949 relative to protecting civilians during war times, are still applicable on the Syrian Territory occupied by Israel in June 1967.

• Calls upon the Secretary General to report the implementation of this Resolution to the Security Council within two weeks from today. The Councils decides that, in case of Israeli negligence, it will hold an extraordinary meeting maximum not later than January 5th, 1982 to consider taking the appropriate procedures."

Many Arab Countries submitted to the Security Council a draft resolution which condemned Israeli decision of annexation, but the USA vetoed the decision after absolute majority of nine votes ( USSR, Spain, Guyana, Togo, Poland, Jordan, China, Za’eer and Uganda ), against the USA vote, and five (Britain, France, Ireland, Japan and Panama ) abstained. Thus, the USA asserted its attitude which opposed the Arabs and encouraged Israel to exercise more aggressiveness and further operations to newly annex occupied Arab territories. Abstention was allegedly attributed to a lack of provisions for negotiations and mentioning of Resolutions 242 and 338. The attitudes of the 5 abstaining members were unfair not only because the Golan annexation in a flagrant breach of international law, but also because of its inadequacy to confront Israel acts of continued aggression. The American veto used in the Security Council, to go by the international will to punish Israel, had actually protected it against the Security Council Resolution and roused broad Arab and international condemns and denouncement against the Israeli aggression and American protection of Israel.

The text of the UN Resolution:

The UN:

• Strictly condemns Israel for non-abiding by the Security Council Resolution N° 497 of 1981 and by the UN Resolution N° 226.

• Declares that Israel’s decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Occupied Golan constitutes an aggressive action as provided under stipulations of UN Charter’s Article 39 and UN Resolution N° 3314.

• Declares, once more, that Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Occupied Golan is null and void, legally invalid and completely has no effect.

• Insists that all actions that Israel has taken to validate its decision of annexing the occupied Syrian Occupied Golan are illegal, null and must not be recognized.

• Reiterates that all provision of the Hague Agreement of 1907 and Geneva Agreement signed on 12 August 1949 for protection of civilians during the war times are still applicable on the Syrian territory which Israel occupied in June 1967. It calls upon all sides to respect and secure commitment to their obligations according to such Agreements under all circumstances.

• Insist that the continuous occupation of the Syrian Occupied Golan seized by Israel in June 1967 and continuity of their annexation by Israel since 14 December 1981 after its decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on such territory constitute a continuous threat to international peace and security.

• Strictly denounces the negative veto of the American Security Council permanent member which prevented the Council from taking suitable procedures, referred to in the Security Council Resolution N° 497 of 1981 unanimously adopted against Israel, as provided for under the Charter’s Chapter 7.

• Further condemns any political, economical and technological support to Israel which would encourage it to commit more aggression, enforce and prolong its occupation time, and annexation, of the occupied Arab territories.

• Firmly reiterates its request that Israel, the occupying force, should immediately cancel its decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Syrian Occupied Golan which has resulted from the actual annexation of such Territory.

• Reiterates the utmost necessity of an Israeli comprehensive unconditional withdrawal from all other Arab and Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, which is a basic condition for establishing a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East.

• Declares that Israel’s record and actions confirm that it is not a UN peace-wanting Member, for it does not carry out its obligations neither under the Charter nor under the General Assembly Resolution N° 373 dated 31 May 1949.

• Calls upon all State Members to apply the following procedures:

A. To abstain from providing Israel with any weapon or equipment, and to stop sending military aid.

B To abstain from owning any military weapons or equipment from Israel.

C. To stop all economical, financial and technological aids to Israel and cooperation with it.

D. To break diplomatic, commercial and cultural relations with Israel.

• To immediately stop all their individual and collective links with Israel in order to completely seclude it in all fields.

• Urges the State which are not UN Members to honor this Resolution.

• Calls upon all specialized UN Agencies and International Entities to have their relations with Israel conformed to this Resolution.

• Requests the Secretary General to implement of this Resolution and report accordingly to the State Members and Security Council within two months, and to report to the General Assembly 37th Session which will be held under the title "Situation in the Middle East".

 Syria is but to restore the Golan to the Motherland, and as the Late President Hafez Al-Assad declared, in an interview with the British ''Observer'' on March 2, 1982, : "Our battle with Israel, as it has been commonly known to every one now, is a long one. The Golan occupation, annexation or liberation is but a step in the long battle. We don’t doubt for a moment that we will regain our rights, regardless of how long it takes, because aggression everywhere in the world is destined to retreat and fail. We are rightful in our position, and we have been attacked. We have prove and moral potentials which , if well used and managed by us, will enable us in the long run to fully regain our rights." The Syrians, according to H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad's July 17th, 2000 inauguration speech, would like to achieve peace because it is our strategic choice and because the Syrian people have always been, through history, peace lovers and because we would love to restore our beloved Golan complete and because we want its people to go back to their homes, but we are not ready to give up an inch of our territory nor to achieve peace at the expense of our national sovereignty. Our brave people on the Golan will always be today and tomorrow and for ever Arab Syrians because no matter how long it might take this land will always be ours and will be returned complete to us one day sooner or later. We are not prepared to pay the price of the helplessness of the Israeli governments and their inability to make decisions that push the peace process forward at the expense of our sovereignty and dignity."

 

Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

 

 

 

Israeli Sinister Schemes in the Occupied Golan

The Israeli occupation forces, unfortunately, exploited some  disappointing Arab , regional, and international  conditions, in order to take the void and null decision to annex the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

On the Arab level, the disagreement on Arab policy, the involvement of Iraq in its futile war with Iran, the support of the Arab Gulf states given to this war, and Egypt 's absence from the Arab front were among the main factors  that enabled Israel to carry out its annexation  decision.

On the international level,  the strategic cooperation agreement between Israel and the USA, the hesitant European policy and the weakness of the United Nations  enabled Israel to act obstinately and arrogantly , in disregard for  all international laws and conventions.

On 14/12/1981, the Israeli government led by Menahem Begin announced the annexation of the occupied Syrian Golan heights and the Israeli Parliament " Knesset"  approved  a draft resolution to this effect  at a majority of 63 votes against 24.

The  world community at large denounced such a null decision. Almost all countries, including  those who are allied with Israel, denounced the Israeli decision and denounced  its challenge  of the whole international community. All the socialist countries as well as the West European countries: France, Britain, Spain, Holland, West  Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Cyprus, Greece  and Austria  and the then European Economic community, the Italian labor Union and parties of the ruling coalition in West Germany, including the social Democratic Party and the Democratic Liberal party condemned the Israeli decision .

 The  Israeli decision  was also denounced by Iran, India, Japan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Afghanistan, South and North Koreas in Asia, the Niger, the Senegal, Mali, Nigeria and the Cameroon in Africa  and Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Canada  and Chile in America, in addition  to a number of prominent non Zionist Jewish figures  and organizations in the  United States and Australia.

International organizations also participated  in expressing dissatisfaction  anger, and criticism regarding  the annexation decision and they considered it  as the most hostile decision  issued by one country against another , after the Second World War.

Kurt Waldheim, former secretary general of the Un expressed his strong anxiety over the Israeli decision.

The decision was also categorically rejected by  Afro-Asian Solidarity Organization, the World 's Journalists Union, the International Union of Students , the World Peace Council, the peace Council in the GDR, the Soviet Committee of Defense of peace and the Hungarian peace council.

Four days after Israel 's announcement of its decision  on 18/1/ 1981, the UN Security Council held a meeting  and called  on the Israeli entity to rescind its decision to annex the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. The UN Security Council decided  on Tuesday 5/1/ 1985 to hold unofficial consultations with its members and then adopted a resolution, calling for ceasing  arm supplies to Israel, severing  commercial and diplomatic relations with Israel. But, as was expected, the USA vetoed  the draft resolution, which had won an absolute majority- which was nine votes against one, and five abstentions . Thus, the USA again stressed its hostile attitude towards Arabs and revealed that it encourages the usurpation of the land of others by force.

Immediately, after announcing its decision  of annexing the Golan, it tried again to impose Israeli identity cards  on  Syrian Arab citizens.

Therefore, a meeting was held by our people in the village of Majdal Shams, which is one of the Golan 's most important villages. The meeting was also attended by the Golan 's sheikhs and men of religion who called for a three-day general strike in all the villages of the Golan, in protest against the imposition of the Israeli identity cards  on Arab citizens and to stress the Arab identity of the Golan 's citizens , as well as their loyalty to and belonging to their motherland, the Syrian Arab Republic.

All the people of the Golan, without exception, had favorably responded to that call. But as a reaction to the Israeli Government 's obstinacy  and refusal to comply  with  UN resolutions and international principles which  prohibit the making of   changes in the  status of occupied territories by force. The meeting  held in Majdal Shams had decided to continue  to categorically reject  Israeli identity cards. An inevitable requirement of justice for the Arab rights which are supported  by the international law, the Syrian Arab Republic, which, before and after the American veto, had drawn the attention of all Arab and the World public opinion to the dangers attendant on the Israeli stand regarding peace and security to this part of the world. Syria had announced that it reserved its right to take appropriate  measures against this flagrant violation of  the UN Charter and resolutions, including  the UN security council resolution no. 338 and it considers the Israeli decisions of annexing the Golan as a declaration of war against Syria, as a cancellation of the cease-fire  and of the disengagement agreement.

Indeed, as the late President Hafez Al-Assad underscored  in one  of his speeches which followed the Israeli decision of annexing  the Syrian Golan  and the American veto    in the Security Council , ''the Golan was not occupied  by a law enacted by Israel, and its liberation will not be decided by the existence of such a law." The Israeli occupied  Golan is but the Syrian Arab land, which is definitely to be restored to the bosom of the motherland.

 

Tomader Fateh