Israeli Parties and the Golan

When the Labor Party Government assumed authority in Israel, the Israeli government attempted to adjust the policy of its predecessor, but still within the framework of maneuvering, procrastination and attempting to deal with each Arab side individually.

Yitzhak Rabin was among many enthusiasts of realizing autonomy with the Palestinians and postponing the agreement with Syria to a later stage. But with the advent of the sixth round of negotiations Israel considered that there had been a surprising Syrian attitude and a transfer which made a seriously-great Israeli response to the new data inevitable in order not to lose the opportunity of "stabilizing the peace", but the Golan still invoked a lot of multi-important issues in Israel, the foremost being the strategic importance from the military point of view, the destination of settlements, their resulting legal entities in consideration of the law issued by the Israeli Knesset in 1981 imposing Israeli laws, jurisdiction and administration in the Heights, which implied the annexation of the Golan.

Israeli changes, alterations and discussions about the Golan were being introduced, the first of which began in a session of the Knesset's Commission for Security and Foreign Affairs. Peres was quoted in that session as saying that the introducing of modern non-traditional weapons into the area does not leave any choice for Syria and Israel than the peace agreement. Declarations followed thereafter requesting to adjust the strategic depth adopted by the Israeli fighting methodology and the withdrawal, besides declaration to abolish the Israeli law on the Occupied Golan and recognize the Syrian identity of the Golan.


Netanyahu and the Golan

Upon his election on 29 May 1996, Netanyahu declared that the Israeli security was the basis of any peaceful settlement in the Middle East and with Syria in particular. Therefore the Golan, from this point of view, was very vital to Israel's security and it was impossible to withdraw from it as Syria demands. He furthermore said that his government was more interested in guaranteeing the Golan's water resources. He frequently declared with intransigent that the Golan was an important part of Israel's property. Netanyahu frankly confessed that his government strictly objected to withdrawal from the Golan, because that, he claimed, would increase the potential of war nearer than the currently prevailing state of no-war. He was quoted as saying that an agreement related to withdrawal would only leave a piece of paper between Israel's hands, whereas Syria, under such circumstances, might be tempted to attack Israel in future.

The Likud Party, one of the largest and strongest Israeli parties, is considered on the head of those parties which adopt the position of rejecting any withdrawal from the occupied territories as an initial stand. It is absolutely rejecting any possibility or probability of Israel's withdrawal from the Golan. This is not strange, because such rejection of any withdrawal from the occupied territories including the Golan is a faithful and real embodiment of ideological doelune whose expansionist objectives are summarized by the motto of "Israel's total land" and an adhering to the importance of the Syrian Occupied Golan as being vitally necessary to guarantee Israel's security according to the party's thought. The Likud has built its position concerning the future of the Golan's occupied area on the principle of not to relinquish it for peace because it is a part of the Israeli land, as it believes, and that he who wants peace must accept Israel under its present borders. The thoughts of this Party confirm that any plan which includes any relinquishment of any part of Israel's land is considered as opposing the right of the Jews in such land and jeopardizing Israel's security and existence. That's why Israel shall not withdraw from the Occupied Golan under all circumstances and not demolish any settlement therein. In realization of such principles and bases, the Likud, supported by the other Israeli rightist parties, did its best, when it came to power in 1977, to have the Knesset take in 1981 its decision of imposing the Israeli laws, jurisdiction and administration in the Golan. Netanyahu said, "We are ready to continue negotiating with the Syrians on the basis that they are aware that they won't get back the Golan and that we, from our side, won't give up a total peace". During the 1994-deliberations of the Likud Secretariat Political Committee, Netanyahu referred to the existence of two alternatives in the Golan; one was the coalition's ( with the Labor Party ) which agreed to completely withdraw from the Golan; the other was the Likud's which did not find any reason to withdraw from the Golan. When the Likud came to power in 1996 and its Leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, was nominated for the premiership, the Party worked to revive a number of the basic traditional thoughts to be the background of the Government. The Daily Haa’retz said on 17 June 1996 that the new Likud Government would initiate from the consideration that the Golan was a vital region for Israel's security and that safeguarding Israel's sovereignty on the Golan and its water resources would be the basis of any probable settlement with Syria. The Likud Leader said that Israel's security would be the basis of any peaceful settlement in the Middle East and with Syria in particular.

For its part, The Labor Party's ideas were not much different from those of the Likud's, but it had mastered the art of obliteration and tricky formulation which was characterized with the rejection and intransigence in the question of withdrawal from the Golan, without declaring such withdrawal, by using a jargon of ambitious terminology which carried various meanings, the foremost being the fundamentals of the Party and declarations of its officials about what it called the 'Regional Compromises'. Aba Aban, a well-known Israeli personality and one of the Party's Leaders, said about the concept of such regional compromises, "Each Israeli proposal should have double objective; to be executable if accepted, i.e. to fulfill the Zionist's expansionist objectives, and if rejected it should be able to take Israel out of its difficult image abroad". Shimon Peres developed such concept as saying, "We have to be generous in words in order to reach the negotiations wherein we shall be stingy in land. The negotiations, if carried out, should either lead to a regional compromise as per Alon Project, or help us accuse the Arabs of inflexibility in case of failure". Yitzhak Rabin, the Party's previous Leader was scarcely different from these personalities in the art of procrastinating formulation of the Party's attitudes towards the withdrawal from the Golan. Rabin was quoted as delivering on 3 August 1991 a speech contradictory to his above one, "Concerning the Golan, there is a readiness in the Party to agree on a regional compromise for the sake of peace". In 1979, together with the Israeli rightists, the Party Leaders, Rabin, Peres and Alon, signed a petition in support of considering the Occupied Golan as an integral part of Israel. Many other Knesset Labors supported the proposal of imposing the Israeli laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Golan.

After the international changes which prevailed early in this decade besides those which took place within Israel, the Likud Government agreed to attend Madrid Peace Conference. Such agreement ousted the Labor Party from the Israeli political scene. Therefore the Labor Party, in its fifth convention, held late in 1991, adopted a number of internal reforms and political attitudes. This gave a place to insert the "Regional Compromise for the Golan" into its by-laws. The Labor Party did not adhere to its policy of not relinquishing any foot of the Golan and gave a place to the various vague settlements; i.e. the compromise which guaranteed the Israeli security and its confirmation that such various settlements would not include the abolishment of the Israeli military control and its settling existence in the Occupied Golan due to their special importance from the Party's point of view. Rabin introduced a new formula concerning the Occupied Golan which was summarized in the statement of "Withdrawal is as deep as the Peace". He announced the possibility of taking into consideration various possibilities about them but he confirmed in the meantime their secondary importance for Israel's security. He asserted that he would resort to a public referendum about the future of the Occupied Golan in case a real withdrawal from them would become necessary. Press reports said that Rabin undertook to return the Occupied Golan for a peace with Syria, and agreed to pull back to the June 4th, 1967 lines based on security measures and naturalization of relations between Syria and Israel.

All the new formulas expressed by the Labor Party leaders and members, went with the wind when the Party repeated, in its political election program for the 14th Knesset in 1996, the statement of the Occupied Golan importance to Israel, after it had omitted it from the program submitted for discussion. But the Party's failure in regaining the power in Israel once more carried it to the opposition side. The Party, whenever in opposition, was characterized with intransigence. The Party and its Leaders gave up in a way or another Rabin's pledges about agreeing on the complete withdrawal from the Occupied Golan and the pull back to the borders of June 4th, 1967. The Party and its new Leader, Ihud Barak, adopted once more Rabin's attitude about the necessity of reaching a compromise concerning the Occupied Golan, recalling Rabin's statement, "Withdrawal is as deep as the Peace".


The attitude of Meretz towards the withdrawal from the Occupied Golan does not deviate from its general attitude of withdrawal from the whole of the occupied Arab territories. It supports the principle of "Territories for Peace" and opposes the annexation principle except for some border adjustments as necessary for what it calls "Israel's security". This is obvious from the Party's political program of the 1992-elections, which supported the idea of withdrawal for a complete peace with Syria based on strict security measures and a guarantee of the water resources for Israel. Its political program for the 1996-elections included the same point of view; i.e. "The necessity of reaching a comprehensive peace with Syria for a withdrawal from the Occupied Golan but with strict security measures".


All Israeli religious parties center around one idea of what they call Israel's land based on Zionist fundamentals which both define the totality of this land.


This Party sees that Israel's expansion in the aftermath of the 1967-War was another step on the way of salvation. Consequently it would not approve any scheme which might lead to relinquishing of any part of the historical call Israel's land and object to any regional settlement concerning the occupied Arab territories. It was on these conception that Almifdal's unanimously adopted 1992-elections political program stipulated that the Occupied Golan are an integral part of Israel and that they are out of questions during any negotiations, even during the peace process.


Shass Party did not close the door for any political settlement in return for relinquishing of some occupied territories, but it asserted that the respective highest legislators would decide on the possibility of relinquishing of any territory for peace in case there would be a place for real peace. Therefore, the attitudes of the Party which represent the Eastern Religious Jews are considered less flexible than those of Almifdal concerning the occupied Arab territories. Such attitudes are characterized with less differences and more clarity concerning withdrawal from the Golan. Arie Der'ee, Head of Shass, asserts that his Party will be ready to relinquish the Occupied Golan for a peace with Syria. He moreover, confirms that a great part of the Golan is not Israel's land , pursuant to the opinion of the majority of the jurisprudence in Israel and that it is difficult to digest this. Der'ee adds, "He who wants peace, Shass won't be the one who impedes reaching an agreement with Syria".


This Party includes Agodat Israel and Deegel Hathorah. It has intransigent uncompromising attitudes concerning what is called Israel's land which are greatly similar to those of Almifdal. This Party sees that no government is authorized to relinquish any part of Israel's land.


This Party's name means "Israel in immigration". It is politically considered in the middle of Israeli parties, although a bit rightist. It was established late in 1995. It has intransigent attitudes concerning the peace negotiations between the Arabs and Israel, it demands for instance that the Israeli territorial relinquishments should combine with the "democratic changes of Arab regimes". Its Leader, Natan Shranski, asserts that his party supports the peace process which is going on with Arabs, but confirms that priority should be given to Israel's security. Like other Israeli parties, Shranski calls for a slowing down of the peace process particularly concerning the Golan.


The other extremist rightist parties adopt one attitude concerning the Golan. The two Parties; Tsomot and Lolidate, absolutely reject any possibility or of Israeli withdrawal from the Golan, pursuant to the political lines of the intransigent Zionist ideology, which does not talk about any thing other than "the complete Israel's land and the State of the Jews".

Parties of the Middle Right

This groups includes two new parties; Gaisher ( allied with the Likud and enlisted with it) and the Party of the Third Road ( which has four seats in the current Knesset ). Being called Middle of the Right not because they have moderate ideas, but because it they like to appear as moderate, on the background of a belief that the ideas they propose are considered in the middle between those of the Likud and the Labor Parties. But after scrutiny to the rightist, these ideas prove like, the Third Line Party's proposals for the Golan are more intransigent than those of the other right extremist Parties. This Party has been formed by most of intransigent members and supporters of the Labor Party who could not adapt to the Party's directives concerning the regional compromise for the Golan. It is headed by Avigdoar Kahlani. Gaisher Movement is conceived to beat the right of the Likud. David Levi, its Head, confirmed that "Israel won't accept Syria's position which demands the complete withdrawal from the Golan as a condition for negotiations". His attitude concerning the Golan is to give only a few territorial concessions in exchange for peace with Syrian.

Courtesy: NICE

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