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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Golan Heights: A Storied Past, An Unpredictable Future - 1461 words
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.. n Heights allowed the Syrian military to fire on areas as far south as the northern West Bank with little to no fear of retaliation from Israeli forces. These days, with more advanced weaponry, Syria would be able to reach the coastal areas of nothern Israel with their SCUD C missiles. Another major consideration for maintaining control of the plateau is whoever legitimately holds the Golan, also holds the militarily advantage in a ground war. The position is easily defended and gives either side a view deep into the heart of both countries.
During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the Israelis were not only greatly outnumbered, but were also completely surprised when the Syrian military advanced on the Goloan Heights, yet the Israel Defense Force (IDF) held their positions on the Golan long enough for reinforcements to arrive in time to repel the Syrian military. (Orvedahl, pp 35-43) The Golan Heights also acts as a deterrent to any aggression from Syria, Jordan, or Lebanon along the Golan border. The fact that Damascus is within range of Israeli artillery, prevents Syria from even considering an altercation with the Israelis. Former Prime Minister summed the issue of security up in his address to the residents of the Golan Heights in 1992, when he said the following: "Words are not enough about the Golan Heights. We must put them into actions.
Withdrawal from the Golan is unthinkable, even in times of peace. Anyone considering withdrawal from the Golan Heights would be abandoning Israel's security. Let us invest, all of us together, in order to fulfill our obligations to the Golan Heights. And to you residents- those who made the Golan Heights what it is- you have all my respect."Besides security considerations, the Golan Heights is also a key source of water for Israel, as well as Syria. On the western edge of the Golan Heights lies the Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Kinneret, which is an immensely important freshwater source for Israel and neighboring countries.
Lake Kinneret provides over a third of the water for Israel and is fed by the Jordan River and other streams, which mostly run from the Golan. (Kortenoeven, 2000) The issue of water rights alone has halted many negotiation sessions between Israel and Syria and has brought many countries in the Middle East to the brink of war. This was nearly the case in 1964 when Israel threatened to go to war after thirteen Arab heads of state proposed a plan to divert water from the Jordan River into Israel. (Jewish Virtual Library, 1964) Water is not a luxury in this part of the world, rather it is life itself.The final reasons Israel needs the Golan Heights are the economic benefits of owning the Golan, primarily due to agriculture, and the symbolism attached to the Golan for Israel. The Golan Heights serves as a symbol and testimony to Israel's strength for the Israeli people and people around world. On two separate occasions during wars with Syria on the Golan Heights the Israeli military was vastly outnumbered, and on both occasions was able to defeat the Syrian Army. Besides the symbolic nature, the Israelis have turned the once barren land into a viable agricultural region for farms and wineries, and over 15,000 head of cattle use the Golan for grazing.
The Golan Heights is also fast becoming one of Israel's largest tourist spots, receiving over 1.75 million visitors each year. (Graham, 2000) Why Syria Needs the Golan The most obvious reason Syria needs the Golan is also peace and security. With Israeli troops and tanks so close to the Syrian capital, any future war or conflict would be undertaken with Israel having an immediate upper hand, besides the one already owned by the clearly dominant Israeli Air Force. As long as Israel maintains control of the Golan Heights, any Syrian ground advance would fail, solely due to this small strip of land which serves as the gateway any military must pass through in order to enter Israel. These facts account for the issue of security; however, as for the issue of peace, in the minds of the Syrian government and Syrian people, there will never be a sustained peace unless the Golan is returned to its rightful owner, Syria. Before the land would ever be returned to pre-1967 boundaries, however, Israel demands guarantees from the Syrians that the area would remain demilitarized, the Israelis would be entitled access to water, and normal relations would be fostered between Syria and Israel, all of which seems to still be a little ways off.
(BBC, 2000) Just as with Israel, Syria needs the Golan for water. If Syria reclaimed control of the Golan, Syrians would use the Baniyas River (Baniyas Springs) and the Hatzbani River to provide water for their own people and their own agricultural purposes within the Damascus Basin. This would drastically diminish most of the sources of the Jordan River; since the Damascus Basin suffers from a severe water shortage. Water is badly needed in this area that has experienced several years of drought conditions. (ZINC, 1999) The issue of water is also directly linked to Syria's economy, since much of the country and its citizens rely solely on agriculture as the primary means of economic support.
(Butler, 2000)From a political standpoint, the new leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, cannot afford to look weak on this issue. Assad took over the country after his father passed away and remains in a precarious situation, with opposition growing around him. Assad cannot afford to back away from Syria's demand that Israel returns the Golan Heights. But thanks to political maneuvering by the late President Assad in the final years before his death, Syria continues to develop a closer relationship with the United States, which allows Syria to be in a stronger position to negotiate for peace with Israel. What the Future Holds for the Golan Heights Ten years ago, Israel returning the Golan Heights to Syria seemed to be merely wishful thinking; but now that once remote possibility is closer to reality than ever before. With the help of the United States, both sides have considered options which would return the land to Syria in accordance with UN resolution 242, demilitarize the area ensuring security for both sides, and possibly allow for the posting of an observation/peace-keeping force to act as a buffer between the countries. One important issue that must be considered with regards to UN resolution 242; this resolution does not demand complete return to pre-1967 borders, rather it calls for "an exchange of land for peace and security within recognized boundaries." (De La Paz, 2002) In order for this to come to pass though, both countries must continue to compromise on the key issues of demilitarization and water. In the same regards, the United States and other countries must also be willing to act as brokers of peace in order to accomplish this monumental task, which could bring a true and lasting peace to a region of the world that has seen continuous war for centuries.
Whether peace is obtained through the use of UN peacekeepers or the United States deploying American units to the region, the Middle East and the world would be better served if the complex issue of the Golan Heights was resolved. Works Cited Bard, M. 'The Golan Heights'. The Jewish Virtual Library. 2002. Retrieved September 10, 2002.
. Butler, Ed. 'Ananlysis: Golan the Key'. BBC. January 4, 2000. Retrieved September 11, 2002. .
De La Paz, D. 'Troubling So Little Has Changed Since Six Day War'. 'Houston Chronical'. June 6, 2002. Retrieved September 10, 2002. .
'Facts About Israeli History'. The Israel Goverment's Official Website, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 1998. Retrieved on September 10, 2002. . 'The Golan Heights'.
The Jewish Virtual Library. 2001. Retrieved September 11, 2002. . 'Golan Heights'. Wikipedia. 2002.
Retrieved on September 10, 2002. . 'Golan, pollution and bye-bye water supply' ZINC. December 28, 1999. Retrieved on September 11, 2002. .
Graham, E. 'What Price for the Golan Heights?'. The Middle East Information Network. 1999-2000. Retrieved September 13, 2002. .
'The History of the Golan'. The National Information Center: Damascus, Syria. Retrieved on September 10, 2002. . 'History of the Golan Heights'.
Web Golan. Retrieved September 11, 2002. . 'History of the Golan: Vol.6, No.1'. Camera Media Report. Fall, 1995.
Retrieved on September 10, 2002. . 'Israeli Reponse to Arab League to Divert Jordan'. Jewish Virtual Library. From a speech by Levi Eshkil given on January 21, 1964. Retrieved on September 10, 2002. .
Kortenoeven, W. 'What Makes the Golan so Vital for Israel?'. Christians for Israel Today. Canada: 2000. .
Nyrip, R. Syria: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: American University, 1979. Orvedahl, J. The Middle East, 9th ed.
Washington, D.C.: CQPress, 2000. 'Peace Talkers Study Key Paper' BBC. January 9, 2000. Retrieved September 11, 2002. . Rabin, Yitzhak Address to residents of the Golan Heights.
June 10, 1992. (As quoted from http://www.golan.org.il/vip.html). 'Short Historical Overview of the Golan Heights'. Web Golan. Retrieved on September 11, 2002.
. Wiesenhofer, H. Library of Nations: Israel. London: Time-Life Books, 1986.
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