Golan Heights – UPSC GS2

What is the dispute over Golan Heights?
  • The Golan Heights or simply the Golan, is a region in the Levant, spanning about 1,800 square kilometres (690 sq mi).
  • Until 1967 Golan Heights was part of Syria.
  • Israel occupied the Golan Heights during the Six Day war (Third Arab Israeli war) held in 1967.
  • Israel annexed the region unilaterally in 1981.
  • This unilateral annexation was not recognised by the international community and the Golan Heights was seen as Occupied Syrian Territory.

Why Israel is keen on Golan Heights?
  • Israel argues that civil war in Syria demonstrates the need to keep the plateau as a buffer zone between Israeli towns and the instability of its neighbour.
  • Israel also fears that  Iran is seeking to establish itself permanently on the Syrian side of the border in order to launch attacks on Israel.
  • Golan’s water resources and naturally fertile soil.
Current Situation
  • United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) is stationed in camps and observation posts along the Golan.
  • There is a 400-square-km (155-square-mile) “Area of Separation” called a demilitarized zone between the Israeli and Syrian armies.
  • Further Separation of Forces Agreement of May 31, 1974, created an Alpha Line to the west of the area of separation, behind which Israeli military forces must remain, and a Bravo Line to the east behind which Syrian military forces must remain.
  • 25 km beyond the “Area of Separation” on both sides is an “Area of Limitation” in which there are restrictions on the number of troops and number and kinds of weapons that both sides can have there.
US Stance:
  • US President Trump has announced that the US will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
  • This is a departure from the earlier stand of US where it treated Golan Heights as occupied Syrian territory, in line with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

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