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Latest News in Israel – 1st April

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

40,000 Palestinians protest along Gaza border marking Land Day

Some 40,000 Palestinians gathered in five main points along the border, hurling stones and explosive devices such as hand grenades along Gaza’s security fence with Israel as thousands rioted to mark Land Day and the one year of the weekly March of Return protests.

Two Palestinians were killed and at least 100 injured in clashes along the security fence.

The Israeli military said they used crowd dispersal methods, including live fire and tear gas, to keep rioters away from the fence.

The IDF has also began to use a loud sound machine and is spraying blue-colored water against rioters.

The Palestinians Ministry of Health reported that a 13-year-old Palestinian was injured in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet in Khan Younis and that 17-year-old Adham Amaara was killed when he was struck in the face by Israeli live fire near the fence.

Another 100 Palestinians were wounded, 33 of whom were evacuated to hospitals in the coastal enclave, including 10 who were wounded by live fire.

According to the military, while there were more protesters than usual Fridays there was less violence along the fence.

Hamas deployed operatives wearing orange vests at each of the riot sites to make sure that protesters don’t approach the fence. Nevertheless, there were instances of infiltration, including by two eight-year-old children carrying a knife, who were soon after sent back into the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived at the main demonstration, east of Gaza City, accompanied by members of the Egyptian delegation who are in the Strip mediating indirect ceasefire arrangement talks between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said that “today’s marches are a message of power from the rightful owners of occupied lands.”

“The Palestinian resistance is ready for any scenario,” Barhoum continued. “If Israel does not meet our demands, the resistance is ready to respond and change the equation. Today, we are at a crossroads in dealing with Israel, which is now being tested as to whether it will continue with murder and violence.”

Israel’s security establishment had been bracing for thousands of Palestinians to riot across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Saturday to mark Land Day and the one year anniversary of The Great Return March demonstrations along the Gaza front.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on “our Palestinian people in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, and abroad to participate in Land Day (March 30) and take part in the million-man march.”

Land Day commemorates the Israeli government’s expropriation of Arab-owned land in the Galilee on March 30 1976. Six unarmed Arab citizens were killed and hundreds wounded and arrested in the ensuing riots and confrontations with the IDF and police.

Last year on Land Day, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began The Great Return Marches with  thousands of Gazans violently demonstrating along the security fence with Israel demanding an end to the 12-year long blockade of the coastal enclave.

The military said Thursday that troops had completed their operational preparations for the “Land Day” events and that a Division Headquarters, three infantry Brigades and an artillery unit were deployed to enhance the Southern Command.

In addition, the military said that the leave of all combat units that are currently assigned to the Southern Command has been cancelled.

Already on Friday, 21-year-old Muhammad Jihad Jawad Sa’ad was killed by IDF gunfire during night clashes east of Gaza. The IDF said about 200 Palestinians took part in the riots and that an IDF tank attacked an abandoned Hamas outpost in the northern Gaza Strip in response to explosives being thrown at the Gaza fence. (Jerusalem Post) Anna Ahronheim, Tamar Beeri

5 rockets fired from Gaza despite supposed ‘understanding’

Palestinian terrorists fired five rockets from Gaza into Israel early Sunday, the IDF said, following a day of Palestinian mass protests along the Israel-Gaza border fence. Four Palestinians, including three teenagers, were killed and dozens were wounded by IDF soldiers.

The rocket fire threatened to undermine Egyptian-mediated efforts to cement a deal that the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers hope will ease an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory.

No casualties were reported from the rockets and no Palestinian group claimed responsibility.

Despite the rocket attack, meanwhile, Israel reopened the two crossings with the Gaza Strip after days of hostilities in a sign that cease-fire talks may be advancing.

Israeli and Hamas officials confirmed Sunday that the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings were opened for the first time since Monday.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied in the Gaza Strip to mark the one-year anniversary of their mass protests along the Israeli border.

Most demonstrators kept their distance from the border, though crowds of activists approached the border fence and threw stones and explosives toward Israeli troops on the other side..

Hamas had pledged to keep the crowds a safe distance from the fence to avoid inflaming the political atmosphere during negotiations of a possible easing of the blockade.

Hamas officials said that Israel is offering a package of economic incentives in exchange for calm along the volatile border.

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said the group had received “positive signs” from the Egyptians. He added that the Egyptian team was to return to Israel on Sunday to continue the talks. “We will continue our marches until all our goals are achieved,” he said.

Saturday’s protest came at a sensitive time, with Israel and Hamas, bitter enemies that have fought three wars and dozens of smaller skirmishes, both having a strong interest in keeping things quiet.

Hamas, meanwhile, faces growing unrest in Gaza as a result of worsening economic and humanitarian conditions. Earlier this month, Hamas violently suppressed several days of public protests, staged under the slogan “We want to live,” over the dire conditions.

Speaking on the group’s Al-Aqsa TV station, Hamas’ top leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, praised the protesters. “With this big turnout, our people say, ‘We want to live!'”

His use of the protesters’ slogan appeared to be aimed at diverting the recent criticism of his group. Hamas blames the Egyptian-Israeli blockade and punitive measures by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority for worsening the living conditions.

The fence protests haven’t delivered major improvements.

Saturday’s demonstrations were held at five rallying points along the border with Israel. Dozens of volunteers in fluorescent vests were deployed to restrain demonstrators, and rainy weather also appeared to affect enthusiasm.

The IDF estimated 40,000 Palestinians were gathered at the marches, far fewer than the 100,000 it had initially predicted.

“The rioters are hurling rocks and setting tires on fire. In addition, a number of grenades and explosive devices have been hurled at the Gaza Strip security fence,” the army said in a statement.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the army’s preparation and performance in maintaining “calm.”

While bloodshed was not avoided, it was far less than previous high-profile protests. Over 60 people were killed during intense protests on May 14, the day the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem.

As Saturday’s protest was winding down, organizers vowed to continue the marches and said they would gather again as usual next Friday.

The army also said it caught two young Palestinian children who had tried to cross the border with a knife. The children were returned to Gaza through a border crossing.

Earlier on Saturday, Gaza health officials said Israeli troops shot and killed a 21-year-old Palestinian man near the perimeter fence, hours before the mass rally.

The army said about 200 Palestinians “rioted during the night along the fence” and that the army used riot dispersal means against them.

Egypt has repeatedly tried to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, stepping up efforts in recent days after a Gaza rocket struck a house in central Israel earlier this week, wounding seven Israelis and threatening renewed escalation.    (Israel Hayom) Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Staff

Updated Official US maps to show Golan belongs to Israel

The U.S. State Department announced this week that it will update its maps to reflect the Trump administration’s move to officially recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

A department spokesperson told Voice of America that the map modifications would be “consistent” with the proclamation the president signed on Monday, remarking that the United States “recognizes that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel.”

U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Voice of America that Foggy Bottom would “redraw” official maps and make them available “as soon as they are ready.”

The editing, said Hook, reflects reality and a “need for Israel to have secure and defensible borders.”

Last week, Trump posted on Twitter that he would make that recognition.

“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability!” he tweeted.

Israel took control of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War. (WIN) Staff

Australia and Israel sign a new tax treaty

Australia and Israel have signed a new tax treaty which will open further opportunities for bilateral trade and investment according to a statement by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.


Deputy Ambassador Ron Gersternfeld and Assistant Treasurer, Stuart Robert

This follows the Federal Executive Council’s approval for Australia to sign the new tax treaty received earlier today. The Federal Executive Council is presided by the Governor-General.

In a joint statement with Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert, Josh Frydenberg said: “Australia and Israel share a close friendship and longstanding trade and investment ties.

The treaty was signed in Canberra by Stuart Robert and Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to Australia Ron Gerstenfeld.

In 2017-18 total merchandise trade between Australia and Israel was worth over $1 billion, and Israel’s investment in Australia in 2017 was $301 million.

This new tax treaty will further strengthen the friendship and commercial relations between our two countries and provide greater opportunities to grow those relationships.

Key features of the treaty include:

  • Reduced withholding tax rates to create a more favourable bilateral investment environment and also make it cheaper for Australian business to access foreign capital and technology;
  • Rules to reduce potential double taxation, which can deter investment; and
  • Providing greater tax certainty to taxpayers in both jurisdictions.

Importantly, the new treaty also includes OECD/G20 base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) recommendations, demonstrating the Morrison Government’s continued commitment to tackling international tax avoidance practices.

The new treaty will enter into force after both countries have completed their domestic requirements and instruments of ratification have been exchanged.

Legislation will be introduced into the Australian Parliament as soon as practicable to give the treaty the force of law in Australia.

Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry commented: “We warmly welcome the Australian government’s announcement that Australia and Israel have signed a new tax treaty which will open further opportunities for bilateral trade and investment.

In September 2015, the two countries first announced their intention to conclude an agreement aimed at eliminating or reducing the incidence of double taxation between the two jurisdictions, providing greater tax certainty for businesses and enhancing the integrity of both countries’ tax systems. Formal negotiations commenced 12 months later, and have now come to fruition.

A thriving trade and commerce deepen the bond between nations and peoples. The harmonisation of taxation arrangements is an important step towards even greater economic cooperation between Australia and Israel and will enhance the close and warm ties that already exist.

.Israeli technology and innovation across a range of vital industries including healthcare and renewable energy already contribute immensely to our quality of life in Australia.

We expect that this agreement, once implemented, will enhance this contribution further and will also ensure that Australian businesses are able to fully exploit the enormous opportunities in the Israeli market.

There are opportunities for Australian companies to take greater advantage of Israel’s knowledge-based economy – particularly in the areas of biotechnology, ICT, education and training. The new Tax Treaty will also serve as an incentive for Israeli companies to view Australia as a regional base and as a supplier of sophisticated goods and services. This will be good for creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in both countries.”  (J Wire) Newsdesk

Israel’s mighty ‘Roar’: IDF introduces new non-lethal crowd control device

The IDF has introduced a new form of crowd control, the Sha’aga (or “Roar”), according to the Arutz7 news site.

The device, which looks like a giant bullhorn, uses radio waves to disperse rioters in a non-lethal manner, and was developed in Israel.

Walla! News reporter Amir Bohbut tweeted, “The Americans opposed selling the IDF a non-lethal system against protests based on radio waves. Given that, the [Israel] defense industries developed a technological answer.”

“The soldiers who used the system during the violent demonstrations said that it was very effective,” Arutz7 reports.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Palestinians rioted near the Israeli border to mark the first anniversary of weekly violent disturbances in the Gaza Strip, with Israeli troops weathering a steady rain of explosives and rocks hurled by rioters. The IDF also blocked a number of infiltration attempts. (WIN) Staff

Brazil delays embassy move to Jerusalem, opens diplomatic office instead

Brazil delayed plans to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, but announced instead that as a first step in that direction, it would open a trade mission, issuing a statement on the matter while the country’s president Jair Bolsonaro was on a four-day trip to Israel.

“I welcome your decision to open a trade, technology and innovation office, an official office of the Government of Brazil, in Jerusalem,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said when he met with Bolsonaro at his home, where the two issued joint statements.

“I hope that this is a first step toward the opening in time of the Brazilian Embassy in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “I would like to welcome you my friend and say to you and to the entire wonderful delegation that you brought – Welcome to Jerusalem the capital of Israel!”

Brazil does not officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but the opening of the trade office is seen as a nod in that direction.

In a second gesture, Bolsonaro will also visit the Western Wall with Netanyahu on Monday.

Israel had hoped that Bolsonaro would talk about a full embassy relocation, a move that he promised to make three months ago when he became president of Brazil.

But Netanyahu did not allow the set back to dampen Bolsonaro’s festive visit, which began on Sunday morning with a ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport to greet the Brazilian delegation.

“I love Israel,” Bolsonaro said in Hebrew upon landing. He was greeted by the prime minister and his wife, Sara, for a red carpet welcome that included an honor guard and a special tent that was set up on the tarmac to protect the visitors from rain.

Bolsonaro and Netanyahu then held a working meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office. In its aftermath, ministers from both countries signed six agreements in the arenas of defense, security and cyber security, health, aviation, and science and technology. The meeting was followed by a festive dinner.

“We signed many agreements but the most important agreement is the agreement in the heart. We feel a partnership of values and of outlook in all areas,” Netanyahu said.

At his office, Netanyahu told Bolsonaro: “We are at the dawn of a great era in relations between us – Brazil, which is one of the largest major powers in the world, and Israel, which is an ancient country but a new major technology power.”

He recalled that Brazil had played an important role in the history of the modern State of Israel. Brazilian Osvaldo Aranha was president of the United Nations General Assembly when it voted, in 1947, to recognize the Jewish state.

“We are making history,” Netanyahu told Bolsonaro after he landed.

“When you entered your position in January of this year, we opened a new era in the relations between Brazil and Israel.

“I was at the moving ceremony in which you were sworn in as president and here, after a mere three months, on your first visit outside South America, you have come to Israel in order to bring relations between us to a new height,” he said.

Netanyahu noted that Bolsonaro had come with a large delegation of ministers, parliamentarians and business people.

“This is the largest Brazilian delegation that has ever come to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister recalled how, when he visited Brazil, he walked in the streets of its capital.

“I went to the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. I went around with Brazilian people and was extraordinarily impressed by the admiration, and love of the Brazilian people for Israel, there is no other way to describe it. I am certain that just as I saw the great admiration for Israel and me in Brazil, you will meet the great admiration for Brazil and for you here in Israel,” Netanyahu said.

In his speeches in Israel on Sunday, Bolsonaro spoke of the Judeo-Christian values that both nations share.

Bolsonaro mentioned his admiration for Israel and its people. “I’ve always been asked: What can we learn from Israel?” asked Bolsonaro. “I would tell them: We need to have the same faith as they [Israelis] have.”

The Brazilian president concluded: “People of Israel, together our nations can achieve great things.”  (Jerusalem Post) Tovah Lazaroff

The Gaza time bomb is still ticking

The way ahead for Israel and Hamas is clear, with a plan to incrementally improve the situation on the ground; it is impossible to say whether it will work, but the terror group has been told it is now answerable to Egypt for any further ‘mistaken’ rocket launches and the IDF is acting with restraint

by Alex Fishman                   Ynet News


Throughout Saturday, the new post of the IDF high command had the tense feeling that a time bomb was ticking somewhere nearby. All eyes were fixed on the screens and the data that the Southern Command was receiving from the field. The planes waited, fueled and armed.

The order for troops to begin moving out from staging points towards the Gaza Strip was closer than ever, and everyone in the room could feel it.

Sometime during the afternoon, the ticking stopped. Just like in an action thriller, someone had cut the right wire with seconds to spare before the explosion. All of the players – Hamas, Israel and the Egyptians – breathed a sigh of relief.

The Egyptians were able to find a convergence point between Israeli and Hamas interests at least for the next few days, perhaps even until after the April 9 elections. But the detonator is still attached and the charge is still hot – the countdown could resume at any point. Therefore, the entire army is still on alert in the south, in the north and in the West Bank.

In a moment of sanity, both sides have assumed a gradual process of normalization, which could even be extended – incrementally – to last for more than a year.

In other words, in the final seconds before the blast, the two parties returned to the point on the board at which they stood in the immediate aftermath of Operation Protective Shield in 2014, with the same “phased plan” for calm.

In the first stage, Hamas commits itself to stopping the firebombs sent by balloon, the nightly harassment and the flotillas. The demonstrations can continue, but all the organizations active in the Gaza Strip have promised the Egyptians that they will create a security cordon to prevent demonstrators from reaching the security fence – as was the case on Saturday.

It turns out that of the tens of thousands who took part in the demonstrations, almost 20% were “stewards” whose job was to prevent the masses from nearing the fence.

In fact, before the protests began, the Egyptians – at the request of Hamas – summoned representatives from all the organizations, including Islamic Jihad, and received a pledge that everyone – not just Hamas – would send “stewards.”

As for the “mistaken” firing of long-range rockets into Israel, Hamas has promised the Egyptians – and has already launched – a comprehensive review of the firing locations and to correct all the “mishaps” and check the “procedures.”

Failure to do so, the Egyptians declared, would mean settling accounts with us after the next so-called mishap, and not with the Israelis.

For its part, Israel committed to immediately returning the crossings in to Gaza to normal operations and to send in fuel in order to restart the electricity turbines in the Strip. (Some of the Gaza turbines are not currently working because the substitute for Israeli fuel caused blockages and breakdowns.

Hamas has now received a permit to start repairing the turbines and operating them with the fuel that is now coming in from Israel. The Jewish state has also committed to increasing the supply of water into Gaza, and doubling its amount of electricity.

Hamas has also been pledged $30 million per month for the next six months, which will go towards public works as part of UN projects, and Israel has promised to allow Hamas to export agricultural goods not only to the West Bank but also to Israel and Europe. The fishing zone off the Gaza coast will also be extended to 12-15 nautical miles, except in the southern and northern Strip.

So far the first stage is also the test phase. If either side fails, the time bomb will begin ticking once again. To the IDF’s credit, in must be said that the command that came down from the chief of staff on Saturday – to show maximum restraint – was meticulously followed.

Israel knew on Friday about the agreements Hamas reached with the Egyptians. The terror group’s first test were the Saturday demonstrations, with the Israeli defense establishment giving the organization an opportunity to stand by these agreements, despite the breaches.

The number of IDF snipers deployed along the border was three times higher than in previous weeks, but the number of shots fired was much lower than the average Friday at the Gaza fence.

Israel has also known for years what the next stages will be in the understandings with Hamas, which are planned to be implemented after the elections: projects to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip, renew the infrastructure for water and electricity supplies, housing and sewage, increase employment and more.

At this stage, the sides will deal with the issue of POWs and MIAs. It all depends, as it has for the past four years, on political, security and diplomatic developments.

Can there be quiet? Is there even the will? Perhaps there is, and perhaps the two sides will get there without the need for yet another round of fighting. Time will tell

Trump Is Right about the Golan Heights

by Alan M. Dershowitz               The Gatestone Institute


  • No country in history has ever given back to a sworn enemy militarily essential territory that has been captured in a defensive war.
  • Predictably, the European Union opposed the U.S. recognition of the annexation. But it provided no compelling argument, beyond its usual demand that the status quo not be changed.
  • Has any European country ever handed over high ground, captured in a defensive war, to a sworn enemy? Recall that at the end of the first and second world wars, European countries made territorial adjustments to help preserve the peace. Why should the European Union subject Israel to a double standard it has never demanded of itself? The answer is clear: The European Union has always acted hypocritically when it comes to Israel, and this is no exception.

No reasonable person would ask the Israelis to give the Golan Heights to the Syrian mass murderer Assad. It would be suicidal to hand the high ground overlooking Israeli towns and villages to a madman who would use it to target Israelis civilians with chemical barrel bombs, as Assad has done to his own citizens. No country has ever returned a battleship captured in a defensive war to an enemy sworn to its destruction. In addition, the Golan Heights is a big battleship that would be used to attack Israel.

The Golan Heights. Israel’s control over the area has been the status quo for more than half a century, and its legitimate need for this control has only increased over time. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Golan Heights is not like the West Bank, which has a large population of civilians who regard themselves as occupied or displaced. The civilians who lived in the Golan Heights before Israel entered it on the last day of the Six-Day War were largely Druze. Whoever remained there are far better off living in Israel than in Syria. Since Assad began his campaign of murder, many Golan Druze have already become Israeli citizens. As one of the 25,000 Arab Druze stated in a recent LA Times article, “No doubt that Druze and Israelis in the Golan enjoy a level of safety and security that can’t be compared to life on the other side… Each night at dinner, he says he reminds his children that while they are well fed, there are children in Syria with nothing to eat.”

So, Israel’s control of the Golan Heights is not about people; it is largely about military advantage. No country in history has ever given back to a sworn enemy, militarily essential territory that has been captured in a defensive war.

The issue is not whether Israel should give back the Golan Heights now. Virtually everyone agrees it should not. Moreover, it will not. No Prime Minister of Israel, no matter how far to the left, would ever think of ceding the Golan Heights to Assad. The area is high ground that the Syrians used to shoot down onto the Israeli farmers laboring in the valley: it was a shooting gallery.

Israel will remain in control of the Golan Heights for the foreseeable future. The only issue is whether Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights should be recognized by the United States and other countries. It should, for several important reasons.

The reality on the ground is that Israel will never give up the Golan Heights to Syria, unless it is part of a negotiated resolution with a peaceful, democratic Syria that has agreed to end all belligerency and recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. This is unlikely to happen anytime in the foreseeable future. If it were to happen, there would be nothing to stop Israel from ceding the annexed Golan Heights to Syria as part of an enduring peace deal. There is therefore no real harm in Israel’s decision to annex it and the United States’ decision to recognize that annexation. Furthermore, the decision to annex and recognize the annexation removes the Golan Heights from the status of occupied territory and recognizes the status quo as both de facto and de jure realities.

I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with U.S. President Donald J. Trump two weeks before he announced his decision. I provided him with the battleship analogy, which he seemed to appreciate. I told him that I thought the Sunni Arab world might complain, but that they really do not care about the Golan, which has no religious significance to Islam. There were in fact, some minor protests, but nothing of significance.

Predictably, the European Union opposed the U.S. recognition of the annexation. But it provided no compelling argument, beyond its usual demand that the status quo not be changed. Israel’s control over the Golan Heights has been the status quo for more than half a century; and Israel’s legitimate need to control the heights has only increased over time, with war in Syria, and the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah military in close proximity. Would the European Union demand that Israel now hand over the Golan Heights to Assad? Has any European country ever handed over high ground, captured in a defensive war, to a sworn enemy?

Recall that at the end of the first and second world wars, European countries made territorial adjustments to help preserve the peace. Why should the European Union subject Israel to a double standard it has never demanded of itself? The answer is clear: The European Union has always acted hypocritically when it comes to Israel, and this is no exception.

So three cheers for President Trump for doing the right thing. I will continue to criticize him if and when he does the wrong thing — such as separating families at the U.S.’s southern border.

That is what bipartisan means: praising the President I voted against when he does the right thing, and criticizing presidents I voted for (such as Barack Obama) when they do the wrong thing (such as abstaining on the Security Council Resolution declaring Jewish holy places to be occupied territory).

Israel’s continuing control over the Golan Heights increases the chance for peace and decreases the chances that Syria, Iran and/or Hezbollah will be able to use this high ground as a launching pad against Israelis. That is good news for the world, for the United States and for Israel.

Video: Why Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights Matters – Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Critics of the U.S. decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights misread the legal significance of the preamble to UN Security Council Resolution 242, from November 1967, which contains a reference to the principle of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.”

Legal scholars have drawn a distinction between the seizure of territory in wars of aggression, which is illegal, and the seizure of territory by a state exercising its lawful right of self-defense.

Writing in the American Journal of International Law in 1970, Stephen Schwebel, who became the legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State and then President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, wrote  about the legal significance of this difference. He also cited the great British scholar Elihu Lauterpacht, who argued that “territorial change cannot properly take place as a result of the unlawful use of force.”

What about cases of the lawful use of force? In the aftermath of the Second World War, significant territorial changes were implemented in Europe. For example, Germany lost considerable land to Poland and to the Soviet Union. It was clear that the UN Charter recognized the right of states to use force in self-defense, which is the case of Israel’s entry into the Golan Heights.

In 1967, when the Soviet Union undertook to obtain condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council as the aggressor in the Six-Day War, it failed, losing the vote by 11 to 4. The Soviets then went to the General Assembly and failed yet again. It was clear for the member states of both UN bodies that Israel had acted in self-defense.

It is also not true that the Golan decision represents a major shift in U.S. policy. In 1975, President Gerald Ford wrote to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that the U.S. “will give great weight to Israel’s position that any peace agreement be predicated on Israel’s remaining on the Golan Heights.”

In 1991, Secretary of State James Baker wrote a new letter to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir reconfirming the Ford letter. In 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recommitting the U.S. yet again to the Ford letter.

Watch the video:

Amb. Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.