March 22, 2019

Trump's Golan Fiasco

By Ilan Goldenberg and Tamara Cofman Wittes

President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights on Twitter Thursday, sending a sudden thrill through the Israeli electorate just two weeks ahead of the election on April 9. Israel’s embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, immediately welcomed the announcement – and so, helplessly, did Netanyahu’s election opponents.

Whatever the symbolic power of Trump’s recognition for Israelis – and it is symbolic, as the strategic 500 square-mile plateau has been under Israeli control since 1967, when Israeli troops seized it from Syria – his Golan move will have a fierce afterburn. It damages Israeli security and undermines American interests in the Middle East and beyond, while stirring a hornet’s nest that didn’t need stirring.

Netanyahu, facing voters for the fourth consecutive time in just two weeks, is in the fight of his political life. His re-election quest has run into two major roadblocks. The first is a looming indictment for multiple corruption charges -- Israel’s attorney general has already announced his intent to indict the prime minister. The second is the Blue-White Coalition, an unexpectedly strong challenge from a new electoral alliance headed by three former army chiefs of staff and a former finance minister. Only a decisive electoral victory and the chance to pass a law granting him immunity while in office might rescue Netanyahu from an ignominious fate.

Read the full article in POLITICO Magazine.

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