WHILE Twitter diplomacy may have a few merits, tweets may not be the best medium to announce policy decisions regarding sensitive matters of global importance. However, the incumbent of the White House quite obviously disagrees with this notion, as Donald Trump’s recent tweet on the Golan Heights has proved.
“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. ...” President Trump tweeted recently, eliciting a strong response from the Middle East. It seems the fact that the Golan is Syrian territory illegally occupied by Israel — and recognised by the world as such — matters little where the US leader and his coterie of pro-Israel hawks are concerned.
While the Israelis reacted gleefully to Mr Trump’s act of ‘generosity’, others in the Middle East weren’t quite so pleased. Syria itself has said that Mr Trump’s action “reflects the United States’ contempt for international legitimacy” and “blind bias” towards Israel. The Arab League, Turkey, Iran and Russia have also slammed the American move strongly.
The fact is that Mr Trump’s move is part of a familiar pattern of appeasement of Israel and disdain of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. This is only the latest in a series of moves emanating from the Trump White House to have exposed the current US administration’s true inclinations in the Middle East.
For example, late in 2017, the US ‘recognised’ Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, going against international consensus that the holy city is disputed territory; this year, the decision to ‘merge’ the US consulate in Jerusalem (which principally dealt with Palestinian affairs) with the American embassy was also seen as a snub to the Arab side, while Washington’s support for illegal Israeli settlements is perhaps at its highest level ever.
The message from Mr Trump seems to be one of denigration of Palestinians and granting legitimacy to the Israeli occupation. The Zionist state has a voracious appetite for Arab land; Mr Trump and his team in Washington are creating an enabling environment where Tel Aviv can take what doesn’t belong to it, and get away with it. However, as observers have noted, the latest move of ‘gifting’ the Golan to Israel is likely to fuel more violence in the region.
Thus, any peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute at this point seems remote, and more turbulence is the likely fate of the region.
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2019