Menu JTA Search

Special to the JTA Israeli Official Explains Basis for the Action on the Golan Heights

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The mounting threat to Israel’s security from Syria and the “vacuum’ in civilian juridical matters on the Golan Heights were the two reasons for Israel’s decision yesterday to apply Israeli law to that territory, captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, according to Naphtali Lavie, the Israeli Consul General in New York.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today, Lavie said he did not think the Israeli action would lead to a crisis with the U.S. But he

cited the failure of U.S. diplomatic efforts to get Syria to remove its anti-aircraft missiles from Lebanon as another reason why Israel acted on the Golan Heights.

Lavie described Syria as a country that has consistently declared that it will not negotiate with Israel or recognize it and is committed not to reach a peace agreement with Israel. In that connection he quoted a Kuwait newspaper interview with Syrian President Hafez Assad who reportedly said that “even if the Palestine Liberation Organization recognizes Israel, we in Syria cannot recognize it.”

“How,” Lavie asked, “could the Syrians expect Israel to sit idly and not give its citizens and settlements on the Golan Heights the same civilian and juridical status that any other citizens now have?” He noted that Syria has been occupying a major part of Lebanon, thereby preventing any settlement of that country’s crisis and posing “a constant threat on Israel from Lebanese territory.”

Lavie said that “In addition to the Syrian front with Israel, the Syrians extended the confrontation front with Israel to the Lebanese front. They are supported there in addition to the Syrian forces in Lebanon, by the PLO forces under their control.”

According to the Israeli official, the Druze and Jewish populations living on the Golan Heights needed the application of Israeli law to solve all kinds of civilian juridical problems which were so far solved by ad hoc legislation by the Israeli military authorities on the Heights. He said that this means that from now on the law on the Golan Heights in civilian matters will be the same as it is in Kiryat Shemona and Metullah inside Israel.

DOES NOT SEE U.S.-ISRAEL CRISIS

Asked about a possible crisis between Israel and the U.S. as a result of Israel’s move, Lavie said; “I do not think that it is going to lead to a crisis. The U.S. is sensitive to Israel’s problems on the northern borders and the difficulties it is facing. The U.S. probably also appreciates the sacrifices Israel made in the Sinai to Egypt. Israel’s decision to apply its laws on the Golan Heights were made in an attempt to secure Israeli defenses in the north and we assume that the U.S. would recognize Israel’s need to secure its border in the north.”

The Israeli Consul General observed that it seems the Reagan Administration took upon itself “a mission impossible” when it sent special envoy Philip Habib to Lebanon in an effort to remove the Syrian missiles there. “The presence of the missiles and the helplessness of the diplomatic steps to remove the missiles from Lebanon were also a factor in Israel’s consideration to apply its laws to the Golan Heights,” Lavie said.

NEXT STORY