chapter  11
11 Pages

Summary and conclusions

Was the mountain a monster? The story of the Golan and its position between Israel and Syria is not only a legacy of the past. It has been interwoven into the political experience of the two states. Public discourse in Israel regarding the political future of the Golan and the direct and indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria has rested to a great extent on emotional arguments, and personal and collective memories, and these are, by nature, based on the past. The findings of the book illustrate the gap which exists between memory and history in everything related to the Golan and the conflict between Israel and Syria. No matter how deep this gap is, it exists in every aspect of the conflict – geographical-settlement, geopolitical and historical-political. It involves all of these aspects and integrates them. The image of the Golan for the Israeli public was constructed between 1948 and 1967 as a mountain which became a monster. This image reached its peak in June 1967 but has continued to be shaped and safeguarded in the Israeli collective memory, and has persisted up to the present. Is this image justified? If it is viewed from the narrow point of view of those who live in border settlements and who have experienced daily life in an area of combat with topographical inferiority, the answer is, without a doubt, positive. But this subjective view, natural, understandable and upon which Israeli collective memory is based, is not congruent with historical fact. A general investigation of the settlement picture of the Golan during the periods of Syrian control and during Israeli rule, and an analysis of the conflict between Syria and Israel lead to the conclusion that this threatening image is unjustified. Moreover, the sense of threat and fear have existed, perhaps to an even greater extent, from the mountain to the valley, that is, Syria’s fear of Israel. The construction and demonization in Israel of the “Syrian Heights” can be contrasted to what might have been expected considering the growing military gap between Syria and Israel. In fact, the greater the Israeli military superiority became, the more fearful the image became, and as Israel demonstrated greater and greater superiority, the intensity of the demonization reached its peak. This demonic image combined two factors: fear and lack of knowledge or incorrect

knowledge. The demonization of the other side was mutual, as were the same two causative factors – fear and the absence of knowledge, or partial knowledge about the other side and about the events which were associated with disputes and conflicts between the two sides. These factors, which sustained one another, motivated events which greatly affected the development of the Golan settlement landscape and its changes. Until the Six Day War, it appears that Israelis viewed the Golan Heights almost exclusively through military binoculars and there was no Israeli awareness of the extended Syrian civilian settlement living in the Golan. No one paid heed to the fact that the Syrian Golan settlement map included 273 towns and villages in June 1967 with a population of 150,000. To a great extent, there was no comprehension of the fact that the 223 villages with 128,000 inhabitants which were conquered by Israel – almost eight times the number of Jewish settlers now residing in the Golan – had their homes in the area and that these villages were characterized by a marginal population, mainly agricultural, with a traditional lifestyle, conservative, isolated, living in poverty and illiteracy, in difficult circumstances and, like the Israelis, were also affected by the military conflict between Israel and Syria. The myth which was fostered and strengthened which viewed the Golan as a region sparse in civilian population with an abundance of military camps and threatening weaponry continued even after the conquest of the Golan. The focus in writings and in commemoration events centered on Syrian army positions, Golan military aspects and personal war stories. The lack of knowledge about the Syrian settlement landscape has stemmed from the minimal amount of research on the Syrian Golan and from the destruction of these villages after the war (some by the forces of nature and others by human activity) and so, even after the Six Day War, the image of the “Syrian Golan” as an area of fortified bunkers, army installations and minefields persisted. From the end of 1948, there was clear Israeli military superiority, recognized by both sides as well as by the international community, and this affected most of the political and military encounters between the two states. In July 1949, Syria gave in to the ultimate Israeli demand to withdraw from the territory which it had conquered in the summer of 1948, a demand which was accompanied by a serious threat on the part of Israel to occupy areas of the Golan Heights. Immediately afterwards, in the absence of a peace treaty which would replace the ceasefire agreement, Syria was forced to accept Israel’s appropriation of control over most of the demilitarized areas, which included the establishment of settlements as early as 1949 in areas which were actually on the other side of the “Green Line,” setting up water projects, forcing the Arab inhabitants living in these areas to evacuate their homes and destroying their villages. The cultivated areas which became the catalyst for border conflicts were all on the far side of the “Green Line” – the armistice line. The entire period up to the Six Day War, and afterwards as well, Syria desired neither a frontal confrontation with Israel nor border skirmishes. Its reactions to Israeli moves were minimal and were limited to essentially what was required in

order to maintain national honor and to preserve its image, or more precisely, the honor of its leaders in the Arab world, without becoming endangered in a conflict which would exceed a local exchange of fire. In 1956, Syria avoided becoming involved when Israel attacked Egypt and invaded and occupied the Sinai Peninsula. This war brought home to the Damascus government that Israel would exploit political circumstances and would not hesitate to take advantage of its military superiority to initiate war. Fear of Israel increased in Damascus, and simultaneously, as a deterrent, Syria intensified its aggressive rhetoric and sought defense and security either in political treaties or under the aegis of pan-Arab ideology and the unstable solidarity which accompanied it. Syrian conduct up to the Six Day War testified to its growing fear both of Israel, and of Israeli intentions to overthrow the Syrian regime. This fear was at the basis of the tensions which preceded the Six Day War, worsening with the “Tel Dan Incident” in November 1964 and more so with “Ha’on Incident” in April 1967, ultimately leading to the outbreak of war in June 1967. The tactic adopted by Syria to cope with its military inferiority, whether for internal or external consumption, involved payment of lip service to what was termed a “people’s war.” This took the form of acts of sabotage against Israeli targets, most of which were not carried out from the Golan but which had the logistic support and encouragement of Syria both before and after the fact. The real damage from these acts was minor, but Israel felt compelled, or more precisely, felt able to react aggressively against Syria. The construction and activation of the National Water Carrier which pumped water from Lake Kinneret to the center of Israel provoked additional reaction from the Syrians which was essentially ostentatious in nature – a project to divert the sources of the Jordan. Israel chose not to risk depending on the difficulties which Syria would have encountered in implementing such a project nor did it wait for any real progress in its construction; it initiated border clashes to damage the equipment for such a project. A conflict developed which led to Syrian army shelling of Israeli settlements in the demilitarized zone and along the border, taking advantage of its topographical superiority. The Syrian fire on the border settlements and the disturbances to daily life provided the basis for the development of the demonic image of the Golan among the Israeli population. But it is doubtful whether the northeastern civilian population, and the Israeli population as a whole who identified with them, were aware of the fact that these settlements and their inhabitants were serving as soldiers in the struggle for control over the demilitarized areas, control which Israel had given up, temporarily in the view of its leaders, in the ceasefire agreement. In fact, the official maps of Israel marked the “Green Line” along the international border rather than along the ceasefire line, and the settlements of Gadot, Ha’on, Tel Katzir and Ma’agan had all been located east of the ceasefire line. Due to the fact that the Israeli political leadership during the Ben Gurion and Eshkol governments confirmed use of the air force against Syrian positions only if Israeli settlements had been fired upon, the shelling of border settlements

became a necessary stage in the development of combat and a factor in the military plans of the Israeli Defense Forces. Israel initiated these combat episodes frequently in order to disrupt work on the diversion of the sources of the Jordan and to maintain and even increase its deterrent power against Syria. To trigger the combat, Israel would provoke the Syrians, causing them to react, and escalating the incident to the point that the Syrians would fire on Israeli settlements – the condition for activating the air force. The “Ha’on incident” in April 1967 escalated Syrian fear of Israel to a peak. This fear was used first by the Soviets and then by the Egyptians to create tension with Israel, tension of which the Soviets lost control, leading Israel into a war against Egypt. Even after the outbreak of the war, Syria took a line which, in light of the situation, could be defined as passive, focusing on defense and hoping that the war would end without it being harmed. When Dayan ultimately decided to conquer the Golan, a decision he later termed as one of the worst mistakes of his life, the weakness of the monster was confirmed. Thirty hours of battle were sufficient for Israeli forces to break through the Syrian front and to conquer most of the Syrian Golan. Much of that time did not involve military combat but rather “a battle against the clock,” waiting for the ceasefire to come into effect. In June 1967, the Golan Heights underwent an extreme change. In a short time, almost all of the people who had been living in the Golan had left and most of the villages were in the process of being destroyed. Soon afterwards, a new settlement chapter began. The new Israeli settlements which shaped the human landscape were completely different from the previous ones in the dynamics of their development, in their distribution, in their character, in their physical, economic and social structure, in the scope of their population, in their ethnic composition, and in the culture which developed within them. The factors which had caused the 120,000 non-Druze Golan residents to leave their homes are not precisely known. However, this development suited Yigal Allon’s plan, formulated in the days before the war and immediately after it, that, because Israel would not annex territory over the international border, a Druze state should be established to separate and divide between Israel and Syria. This also fit the procedural models of 1948 which were well known to Allon and his former subordinates – “Dado” (David Elazar) and Dan Laner, head of Northern Command and “Dado’ Chief of Staff in June 1967 – with whom Allon had conferred in the days leading up to the war in order to form a combat plan. At precisely the time when it became apparent how powerless the Syrian army really was when facing the IDF, even from the heights of the Golan, the demonic myth of the heights reached its peak. To a great extent, this was due to the scene revealed to army officers and soldiers looking down from the Golan into the valley below. At a period when all Israelis felt like soldiers, crowds of people hurried to visit the occupied Golan, viewing the Hula Valley below and imagining the Syrian weapons directed toward Israel. Everyone shared the sense that the situation could not return to what it had been, but the feeling of euphoria at the time led to the fact that very few looked deeply into the question of how to

prevent this from happening. Some of those who did were the ministers of the national unity government of Israel which, after a series of discussions, reached a secret and dramatic decision on 19 June 1967: to propose a peace treaty to Syria (and to Egypt) based on the international border, which would importantly include the demilitarization of the Heights while water from the sources of the Jordan would be ensured for Israel. In addition, it was decided that, until the signing of the peace treaty with Syria, Israel would continue to hold all of the territory which had been captured. An examination of the positions of the government ministers as expressed in secret and public discussions indicates without a doubt that they viewed this decision as the best way to take advantage of the military achievement in order to ensure that the situation preceding the Six Day War would not recur. Senior government ministers in both this government and those which followed – especially Allon and Dayan in words and Begin and Dayan in their deeds – testified later to the seriousness of their intentions in this decision and on its later continuing validity. Through the years, this decision remained the basis for the positions of Israel’s political leaders regarding a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Syria. Officially, Israel adopted the more convenient terminology of Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967 as its basis for negotiation, but this resolution, as well, negated the possibility of acquisition of territory gained in war. Thus, the international border of 1923 remained the only one which fulfilled the conditions of that decision. At a certain point during the years preceding the Yom Kippur War, the hope and aspiration was expressed among the Israeli political leadership that adjustments in this border could be made within the framework of a peace treaty so that the withdrawal from the Golan Heights (and from Sinai) would not be complete, but the political realities following the October war led to disillusionment regarding those ideas. In March 1979, Begin, in fact, implemented the Israeli government decision of June 1967 when, as Prime Minister of Israel, he signed a peace treaty with Egypt in which the international border was determined as a permanent one. In this agreement, it was also stated that this would be the basis of a peace treaty with other states, as well. At the time, Begin called upon the President of Syria to join the agreement. The turning point which led Eshkol to take steps to settle the Golan occurred on 26 June 1967 two weeks after the conquest of the Golan Heights. In contrast to accepted thinking, Egypt and Syria did not reject the Israeli peace proposal, which offered to turn the Golan over to Syrian control, simply because the proposal was never passed on to them by the Americans. The Soviets, as well, who, to a great extent, represented Egypt and Syria in the political arena, did not receive the decision of the Israeli government from the Americans. American interests led them to distance themselves from involvement in the political process, which they would have had to lead, and whose decisions the United States would be demanded to guarantee, even if there was a chance that this

proposal might lead to a peace treaty. A few days later, Eshkol and his senior ministers understood that their proposal would not be quickly accepted. The center of gravity then moved to the second part of the government decision which testified to the strong opposition to any demand to withdraw from territory conquered without a peace treaty. Settling the Golan was the best-known and most convenient tool to anchor this decision and to defend it. From then on, Eshkol led the planning and implementation of settlement on the Golan. He had the assistance of the Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency which he had headed for many years until his appointment as Prime Minister, and the active encouragement of representatives of the settlement movements in the government, Ministers Allon, Galili and Gvati. The nature of the political objective created ambivalent attitudes and a dual significance for settlement in the Golan. Parallel to the view of the settlements as a political tool and as an act of temporary duration which would depend on the results of political steps in the future between Israel and Syria, it was also necessary to plan and construct settlements which could exist for a period of time whose length could not be determined. The heads of the Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency and its staff enthusiastically set about to fulfill this professional objective, but the duality and ambivalence derived from the settlement objectives persisted throughout the settlement period and greatly affected its character. Representatives of the political system frequently expressed support for settlement, and public opinion was also favorable, but the expressions of support contrasted with concrete developments and were, to a great extent, a camouflage or a counter to its delays, to the meager resources invested in carrying out development plans and to the fact that the objectives of the plans were not achieved. The desire to view the new settlement as a continuation of the settlement project which had preceded the establishment of the state should be viewed as a wish stemming from the nostalgia of individuals, of minorities and of lobbies. This view was accompanied by a certain measure of deception meant to win public support for the new settlement project which was outside the borders of the State of Israel and even outside the “Land of Israel,” established on the ruins of densely populated Syrian settlement, and of which the doubts about the future were and have been an inseparable part of its development. On the other hand, the objective of establishing settlements in the Golan as a temporary political tool prevented a renewed investigation of the role, the function and the character of settlement in the State of Israel. Such an investigation was necessary in light of political, security, social and economic changes which had taken place since the establishment of the state. For example, the question never arose in Israel as to why, in order to distance settlements (i.e. settlements in the Jordan and Hula Valleys, in this case) from Syrian fire, it was necessary to advance settlements to the new ceasefire lines. Also unquestioned was the basic assumption: was the defensive role which settlements had played in the struggle to establish the state still valid in the sovereign entity of the Zionist Movement? This question arose later, when the difficulties posed by the Golan settlements to

the Israeli defense system became clear in the period just preceding the Yom Kippur War, and the necessity of evacuating these settlements and their 300 members at the beginning of the war intensified the damage to the settlement ethos. In order to deal with this harm to the settlement image, there was a demand to integrate the settlers into the IDF defense system in the Golan. This idea, which was well-suited to past wars, was meant to rehabilitate the settlement image and link it to the historical ethos. But in the end, the system was not put to the test and disappeared. The doubts regarding the Golan settlements, stemming from the ambivalent objectives for which they were established, persisted, and this had great effect on the settlement process, on the power systems which propelled it and on plans for its development. Those who were most aware of these doubts were the Golan residents themselves and others who supported them. This was evidenced by the struggle carried on to eliminate any doubts on the part of public opinion. The settlement process in the Golan was not spontaneous, as is usually thought. It was intended by the Eshkol government to be used as a tool to administer its policies under circumstances in which an agreement with Syria did not appear to be forthcoming. Golan settlement was supported by the motivation of the Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency to protect itself from wideranging organizational cutbacks and to turn the process into one in which its representatives could express their doctrines and beliefs in implementing regional settlement. It was advanced by the competition of the settlement movements to take possession of settlement areas. In fact, the settlers themselves are the ones who hindered the settlement process and the implementation of settlement plans. Golan settlements have always been characterized by their small number of settlers and their high turnover. The preparation to establish the first settlement in the Golan, which later became Kibbutz Merom Golan, realized almost the full potential for mobilizing settlers, and it was significantly difficult to find people to establish additional settlements. Most Golan settlements were established by small groups with no preparation or group unification and integration. In the summer of 1977, after ten years of settlement in the Golan and with the end of the political hegemony of the Labor Movement which had propelled it, the number of residents in Golan settlements numbered only 1,500. In December 1981, the Knesset enacted the Golan Law which ended military rule and imposed Israeli civil law. The Law marked the beginning a prolonged nadir in the Golan. The migration balance to the Golan was low, and during some years there was even a negative balance – the number of residents leaving was larger than the number of those who migrated to the Golan. Despite the encouragement and the expressions of support, settlement in the Golan has, through the years, suffered from a lack of budgetary resources to realize development plans. Implementation of the program to establish the settlements was spread over 25 years, much longer than planned. Most of these settlements were first set up in temporary sites and buildings and it usually took a number of years to move to a permanent location. The shortage of budgets became more salient with the establishment of an urban center in Katzrin to

which most of the development resources were directed. This was a method used by Finance Minister Pinchas Sapir to delay the establishment of other rural settlements by deciding to withdraw his opposition to the establishment of a city in the Golan. The decision to establish the city of Katzrin was “forced” from a professional standpoint as well. Its construction was justified by the claim that it would provide services to an illogical population estimation of 45,000-55,000 Jewish Golan residents, based on a city population of 30,000. These numbers would have made it necessary to concentrate the entire Golan system of services in the new city. An alternative would have been to base the educational systems, the economic enterprises and other systems on a more natural horizontal movement which actually did develop spontaneously and which exists to a great extent at present. In other words, the service systems in the north of the Golan would be based on the Hula Valley and on Kiryat Shmona, those in the center on Hazor Haglilit, and those in the south on the Jordan Valley and on Tiberias. The attempt to concentrate these centers in Katzrin failed in most objectives, but was carried out at the expense of the agricultural and urban settlements of the Hula and Jordan Valleys. In practice, the Golan residents were the first to act against it. Thirty years after its establishment, there were only about 6,500 residents in Katzrin – far fewer than the population goal which had been proclaimed at the beginning. Forty years after settlement in the Golan had begun, the number of Jewish residents was fewer than 17,000 – only a third of the goal which was to have been achieved ten and even 15 years earlier. In addition, the number of non-Jewish residents had grown to 22,000. Regarding the Syrian-Israeli border, there are issues about which a deeper investigation on both sides would likely enable each side to evaluate the policies and actions of the other side toward them in a different light. If, for Syria, this evaluation is directed mainly toward the leadership, in Israel, due to its governmental and social structure, it is directed at both public opinion and at those who shape it. Until the end of World War I, for the Zionist Movement, the concept of the “Land of Israel” was an object of dreams but did not have defined borders. When the British Mandate was demarcated in the area and international borders were determined, the Zionist Movement adopted these borders as defining the “Land of Israel.” Indeed, the Zionist right-wing demanded the right to establish the national homeland in the area of the British Mandate which was east of the Jordan, as well, but the Golan Heights were not included in this defined area. According to the political position of the Zionist right in Israel, which was clearly expressed by Menachem Begin, its representative, the Golan Heights were not included in the map of the “Greater Land of Israel.” In the framework of the later peace agreements, the international border which defined the British Mandate of Palestine-the Land of Israel became the permanent border of Israel with Egypt and with Jordan. Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon in May

2000 in accordance with the international border and there is understanding that this is the permanent border between the two states. The international border between Syria and Israel which was determined in 1923, expressed the desire and the power of Great Britain to extend the area of its Mandate farther than that determined by the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) in order to include most of the water sources in the area. Syria hoped to make adjustments to this border and attempted to do so using political means against Great Britain, but its petition was rejected. According to the United Nations Partition Plan, adopted by the UN on 29 November 1947, this line – the international border – was determined to be the border between Syria and the State of Israel. The end of the British Mandate over Israel and the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel on 15 May 1948 was marked by an invasion of the Arab states into the Arab sector of the partition as determined by UN decision. The central Galilee was to be part of the Arab state and Syria sought to occupy the area. However, due to Lebanon’s refusal to let the Syrian army pass directly through Lebanese territory into the central Galilee, the Syrian army attempted to reach the area from the direction of the Golan Heights and, thus, had to break through the borders of the Jewish state. The result was that, at the end of the war, Syria was the only Arab state holding territory in the State of Israel. Syria withdrew from these areas, temporarily in its opinion, according to the ceasefire agreement signed by both states in July 1949. The two states recognized these areas – the demilitarized zones – as territory with no sovereignty, but until June 1967, Israel actually controlled most of them and only 30 percent were in Syrian hands. The term “the fourth of June lines” expressed this situation. But these lines are unclear; they are not defined or marked on maps or on the ground, and their determination is open to interpretation, the principles of which have never been decided upon. Security Council Resolution 242, which has been accepted by all states as the basis for a solution to the Middle East conflict, is based on the principle which negates occupying land by force. The demand by Syria to accept the “fourth of June lines” as the border defining its sovereignty is not in line with this decision, as the demilitarized zone which is west of the international border (and which, in actuality, was divided between Syria and Israel until June 1967) is territory that Syria conquered from Israel in 1948. In addition, the precedent of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which rests on the withdrawal of Israel to the international border and not to ceasefire lines or any other line, weakens the validity of Syria’s demand to base the permanent border on the “fourth of June lines.” Moreover, accepting the Syrian demand would not bring Syria to the waterline of Lake Kinneret, since this line is dozens, even hundreds, of meters west of what it was during the summer of 1967. Israeli policy regarding the future of the Golan was reaffirmed in the summer of 1993. The change in the international balance of power with the fall of the Soviet Union created a new situation in the Middle East, as well. Syria, which

was left without the patronage of a superpower, joined the US coalition during the First Gulf War. Later, Syria, for the first time in the history of the dispute, participated in a political process which was aimed at achieving a peace treaty with Israel on the basis of Security Council Resolution 242. Yitzchak Rabin became the first Prime Minister who had to deal with a situation in which he could implement the policies of the Israeli government of 19 June 1967 – a complete withdrawal by Israel from the Golan to the international border on condition that a full peace treaty would be signed which would ensure the security of Israel, primarily by the demilitarization of the Golan, and guarantee Israeli use of water sources. This policy had been implemented by Menachem Begin in 1979 with the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which also determined that it would serve as a model for additional peace agreements. Now, in August 1993, Rabin reiterated this policy in a commitment to Warren Christopher, the American Secretary of State. There was only one difference between the policy of Israel during the summer of 1967 and Rabin’s commitment of summer 1993. According to Rabin, the Israeli withdrawal would be to the “lines of 1967” rather than to the international border. This was a small change from a physical standpoint, but an enormous one psychologically. Five years later, in September 1998, Benjamin Netanyahu repeated and corroborated this policy. In the “Lauder Document” which was transmitted in his name to Syria, Netanyahu agreed that a peace border would be determined according to the situation which existed on the eve of the Six Day War. Clarification of the term “fourth of June line” was the principal barrier in the political process which took place between Syria and Israel. Such clarification would have to be conducted by a small team of experts from both sides. Only in intimate and businesslike discussion could a line be drawn which the leaders would be required to approve as the fourth of June line, and which would become a permanent border. Such clarification would best be done at the beginning of negotiations. Its success would constitute the basis for a continuing process which could succeed only if the leaders of both sides referred to it as though they were partners rather than opponents. The proposal to dig a lagoon in the northeast of Lake Kinneret could provide a basis for a solution. It would enable the division between Israel and Syria of the area of land which had been added to the northeastern shoreline of the lake, and would make it possible for the Syrians to retain a strip of shore which would be in its sovereignty, leaving the lake itself under Israeli sovereignty. An agreement which would enable free entry of citizens to a limited area on both sides of the borderline would be likely to facilitate the two sides to overcome the emotional difficulty for each of them to reconcile itself to the concessions it would be required to make. The stormy events which began in 2011 in the Middle Eastern countries forcefully demonstrate the importance of peace treaties between Israel and its neighbors. These agreements make an important contribution to maintaining stability in the relations between the states. In Israel, as in Egypt and Jordan, recognition of the importance of peace agreements has continued and they have

been regarded as a strategic asset which should be maintained. If the government changes for internal reasons in one of the states, it would be more difficult to breach a signed agreement. With a change in government, the absence of such an agreement might create the conditions for a military conflict. If Syria adopted the solution chosen by Egypt and Jordan and reached a political agreement with Israel under the auspices of the United States and the European community, it (and Lebanon) could be the scene of changes which would direct the internal awakening that began in 2011 toward a more moderate process unaccompanied by bloodshed. Such an agreement could also increase stability in the area during the period of uncertainty and internal disquiet which now characterize most of the states of the region. Whatever the future of the Golan may be, its determination involves moves which may have a great effect on the future of the dispute between Israel and its neighbors, and between the Zionist Movement and the entire Arab world. When considering the past of the Golan, it is important to know the story of its settlement and the details of relations between Syria and Israel as an independent issue. But it is also important to know these facts so that the decisions regarding the future of the Golan be made with serious consideration following an in-depth discussion and in circumstances in which the political discussion between Israel and Syria, and public discourse in Israel as well, distances itself as much as possible from emotional considerations based on memory, on nostalgia and on partial or incorrect knowledge.