In March 2018, the Coalition for the Israeli Golan held the first conference of its kind: “National Strategy for the Golan Heights”.
The conference took place in Tel Aviv and was attended by public figures, local leadership from the Golan Heights as well as prominent figures in the fields of security, diplomacy, media, academia and community development .
The conference was opened by the chairman of the Coalition for the Israeli Golan and former Cabinet Secretary, Zvi Hauser. In his speech, Hauser addressed the objectives of the Coalition for the Israeli Golan and the challenges and opportunities facing Israel in the Golan Heights:
“I am happy to open the first conference of the Coalition for the Israeli Golan. The objective of the Coalition and this conference is to encourage and hold an open discussion regarding the significant changes that are taking place in our region, particularly in the Syrian region; a discussion that for some reason hardly exists in public discourse.”
The following questions of Mr. Hauser enumerate three main challenges facing Israel in the Golan Heights:
- Could there be an effective Israeli action to change the international position regarding the Israeli control over the Golan Heights, especially with the Trump government?
- Is Israel preparing for its removal from the equation of a future interim agreement, the essence of which could be a new demilitarization agreement in the form of “Iran in exchange for Golan”?
- Is Israel changing its direction, abandoning the policy of “the Golan Heights as a temporary territorial deposit”, and instead setting a national target of enlarging Jewish population in the Golan by 100,000 people until 2025?
Hauser concluded his remarks by saying that “not in words will the government’s seriousness be examined but by deeds.”
The first session dealt with the challenge of international recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in which participants discussed the feasibility of international recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and the actions that Israel must take to promote this. The session was moderated by Mr. Hauser and included the following speakers:
MK Michael Oren, Deputy Foreign Minister and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States
Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, head of the Institute for National Security Studies and former head of Military Intelligence
Ron Prosor, head of the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations
The second session dealt with the development of the Golan Heights as a national mission. The session’s participants discussed the urgent need to promote a national plan regarding the Golan Heights that would ensure investment in employment and infrastructure thus enabling a significant increase in the population of the Golan Heights. The session was moderated by Mr. Isaac Zarfati, CEO of the Coalition for the Israeli Golan and included the following speakers:
Dimi Efretzav, head of the Katzrin local council (The main city in the Golan Heights)
Michal Reikin, former deputy head of the Golan Regional Council and candidate for the position of head of the Golan Regional Council.
Maj. General (res.) Gershon Hacohen, one of the founders of the Nimrod settlement in the northern Golan Heights
The conference concluded with a session dealing with the future of Syrian region from an Israeli perspective, in which the participants discussed the desired conclusion of the civil war in relation to Israeli interests. In addition, the participants discussed the extent of involvement Israel should take, if any, to ensure its strategic interests in the region. Dr. Ophir Haivri, Deputy President of the Herzl Institute and a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for the Israeli Golan moderated the session which included the following speakers:
Prof. Eyal Zisser, Deputy Rector of Tel Aviv University and expert on Syria
Journalist Shimrit Meir, CEO of ‘Link’, founder and editor of the El Masdar news website
Haim Tomer, former head of intelligence and head of the Tevel division at the Mossad