Defensible Borders on the Golan Heights

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TheJerusalemCenter | April 28, 2009

Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland participated in press conference on April 22, 2009 held at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs about his new special report on Defensible Borders for the Golan Heights.

View the entire briefing at

Defensible Borders on the Golan Heights
By Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland


For most of the period since the June 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, Israel has viewed this strategic region as the front line of its defense in the north. Prior to 1967, Syrian armor and artillery on the Golan posed a constant threat to Israeli farms and villages in the Galilee below. However, in the years that followed, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) positioned on the Golan, Israel acquired an optimal line of defense to enable its quantitatively inferior standing army to hold back a Syrian ground attack and provide Israel with the time it needed to mobilize its reserves and neutralize any aggression against it.

Despite these military considerations, since the early 1990s, both direct and indirect contacts have taken place between Israel and Syria to examine the possibility of arriving at a peace agreement. In most cases the contacts did not mature into genuine and open negotiations with the intent of arriving at a detailed agreement. The one exception was the effort initiated by Prime Minister Ehud Barak in the years 1999-2000. The negotiations at that time reached the stage of discussion over details that included security arrangements intended to compensate Israel for the loss of the Golan Heights. The talks at that time did not lead to the signing of a peace agreement, but the reason behind the failure to reach an agreement did not stem from an appreciable gap on the security issue. On the security issue, both sides appeared to reach almost total agreement.

Given that background, when indirect Israeli-Syrian negotiations were renewed again in 2008 under Turkish auspices, they were conducted under the assumption that there was a military solution that would compensate Israel for the loss of the Golan and that such a solution was acceptable to the Syrians.

The purpose of this analysis is to demonstrate that Israel does not possess a plausible solution to its security needs without the Golan Heights. Not only was the "solution" proposed in the year 2000 implausible at the time, but changing circumstances, both strategic and operative, have rendered Israel's forfeiture of the Golan today an even more reckless act.

Please read the full report here or here.

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