Essay, Research Paper: Israel And Syria

Geography

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The Struggle For Peace in the Middle East Continues… The Golan region, which
lies between Israel and Syria, has been a place of much heated contention for
many years. While the Middle East does seem in constant disarray, recent reports
are showing that Syrian people are not worried over the recent delays in peace
talks. Certain things are for sure though: Israel realizes it must return to
Syria some of the Golan region, which it has controlled since the 1967
occupation took place during the Six-Day War. Under recent United States’
sponsorship, talks have only one month ago resumed and are still stalled for the
moment, but it appears that both Israelis and Syrians are prospective that an
agreement will be reached. It seems that the area’s inhabitants are moving
from warring to negotiating. The Golan Heights could be described as a desolate
yet scenic stretch of land. The state of Israel was officially established in
1948 with a northeastern border enveloping the Sea of Galilee and shadowing the
western edge of The Golan, a steep ridge belonging at the time to neighbor
Syria. The Golan Heights is about a 460 square mile area that is now occupied by
some 17,000 Israelis and nearly the same number of Syrian Druze who have never
given up their nationality. In 1995, Israel led many to believe that they would
withdraw from Golan in exchange for peace agreements and specific security
arrangements. The United States, realizing an opportunity to further stabilize
the situation in the Middle East in the interests of the world economy, have
ceded a certain compromising attitude with Syria. Contrary to past relations,
Syria has hailed the U.S. efforts at the negotiation table, citing the U.S. as
behaving less like a mediator and more like a partner with each of the disputing
parties. I believe it shows that the U.S. recognizes the strife endured by the
Syrians in the loss of this territory even though it happened over thirty years
ago. The Syrian government-controlled media has duly noted the recent American
actions. Syria has long awaited the chance to more directly enlist the U.S.
government in resolving the issues. One Syrian media official commented, “In
our political view, this means the U.S.A. is serious about reaffirming its
commitment to achieve a comprehensive and just peace.” This is an example of
the U.S. admitting its belief that Israel must give some to get some, even if it
means giving something important back to once vehement enemies. Some of the
issues at hand, on a more local level, include Syrian requirements for a
withdrawal of Israel forces occupying southern Lebanon by July 7 of this year.
Syria itself has 35,000 troops stationed in Lebanon. If forced to withdraw from
Lebanon and the Golan region, Israel demands that Syrian support for the
militant Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah cease immediately. Northern Israel has
been subject to a multitude of attacks by Lebanese Hezbollah, including bombings
and rocket attacks. In addition to more peaceful relations, Israel is expecting
a more diplomatic relation with Syria in an attempt to avoid a ‘cold peace’
situation. Finally, there is the issue of the Sea of Galilee and who will retain
control over the major water supply in the region. Many countries suffer from
cyclical water shortages and Israel wants a guarantee that no interference with
the sea and the Jordan River system will occur once withdrawn from the Golan
Heights. With so much at stake, proper security will be required to oversee the
phased withdrawal. Recently, Israel opted for a proposed early-warning radar
system to be built in the Golan, and Syria has agreed to this so long as
American civilians man the site. Trade agreements are also at stake between the
disputing countries, as well as border control and movement across the restated
border. This ever-evolving situation is a perfect example of how a relatively
tiny stretch of land can affect the global peace process. To the people directly
involved, who live in the area, it’s all a matter of what government loyalties
go to, and pursuit of a way of life. Peace in this region though, could be a
stepping-stone toward ending a seemingly eternal struggle between the Arab and
Jewish populations occupying the region.
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