chapter  9
12 Pages

The nadir: after the Golan Law, 1982–1992

The Knesset decision on 14 December 1981 imposing Israeli law on the Golan was the high point of the public battle for the Golan. The wide public and political support, the sympathy for Golan settlement demonstrated during the struggle and the approval of the law for a long time removed the sense of doubt which had accompanied settlement from its inception. The elimination of the question mark regarding the future was aided by the military conflict between Israel and Syria, both direct and indirect, which was becoming more and more serious, and the fact that it was not centered in the Golan. The conflict reached its peak in June 1982 with the outbreak of the war in Lebanon, and continued years afterwards due to the Syrian presence in Lebanon and the presence of Israel in southern Lebanon. The confrontation took place primarily with organizations operating in Lebanon with Syrian patronage and with its support of the fighting against the Israeli army and against other foreign forces stationed in the country, especially the Americans and the French. The mutually aggressive proclamations between the leaders of the two countries affected public opinion in Israel and distanced any thought of a political process between Israel and Syria,1 and this created a comfortable political atmosphere to continue Golan settlement, and to expect additional resources to complete the project, and provided hope for those involved that a period of momentum would ensue. However, it took ten years from the passage of the Golan Law to set up three Golan settlements. The settlements which were established, Had-Ness, Kanaf and Kelah, completed the implementation of the development plan from the standpoint of number of settlements and their distribution in the area. But they did not aid in meeting the population goals which had been defined in the program. In contrast to the sparse settlement activity, the efforts to increase organizational cooperation were prominent. The dramatic turning point in the world balance of power which took place at the end of the period with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent link-up of Syria to US policies on the eve of the Gulf War and during the fighting, returned the political process between Israel and Syria to the political agenda of the area and brought the Golan from the second half of 1991 to the threshold of a new and stormy political period.