Settlers in the Golan Heights discussed the future of the territory with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin this week but left the meeting as worried as when they had arrived.
Rabin made no comforting promises at the Sunday meeting – at least not for the record. Settler concern over the future of the strategic plateau, as Israel conducts negotiations with Syria, has been intensified by Rabin’s public assessment that Israel does not necessarily need to hold on to “every inch” of the area.
Settlements within the pre-1967 borders of Israel that had been within easy range of gunsights from the Golan have also registered concern.
Taking part in the meeting with the prime minister was a representative of Kibbutz Ein Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, situated at the foot of the Golan Heights. He said the fate of the settlements in the upper Jordan Valley was linked with the future of the Golan Heights. Prior to the Six-Day War, settlements in the Jordan Valley were the targets of repeated Syrian shelling.
The only positive sign recorded by the settlers was the fact that “no one has drawn up any maps” for a possible border settlement between Syria and Israel.
In an official communique, Rabin said he had outlined to the settlers the Israeli position, as it was presented in the negotiations with Syria in Washington.
“Israel wants a full peace with Syria. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 are valid and applicable, in the framework of negotiations with Syria, while each party has its own interpretation regarding those resolutions,” said the statement.
The settlers said they would continue their campaign against territorial concessions on the plateau. “For us, every hill, every rock in the Golan is important,” said Yehuda Wohlman, chairman of the committee of Golan settlements.