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Zigzag as strategy
[Daily Edition]
Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Date: Jan 6, 2004
Start Page: 13
Section: Opinion
Abstract (Document Summary)

At a time when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced the start of the dismantling of several outlying West Bank settlement outposts he felt compelled to give something back on the Golan front. In truth, as Sharon knows full well, the Golan's settlers are likely to prove much less troublesome than their West Bank counterparts if it comes to evacuation. The vast majority of the 22,000 Golan Heights settlers were put there by Labor Party governments, have retained their links with that party, and are moderate in nature.

MANY SETTLERS live in the Golan for economic reasons. Israel has built several agricultural settlements that make good use of the area's highly fertile soil - central to this is the production of wine which Israel exports all over the world. It has also developed several medium sized industrial parks, and in recent years tourism has increased - there is even a ski resort on the Golan's highest peak, Mount Hermon.

As one former Israeli foreign minister commented "the Golan is tank land - not holy land." In other words with the correct security guarantees (listening devices, third-party peacekeepers) there appears little political reason for Israel to hang on to the Heights. If there is a peace, all Golan settlements will either be abandoned or put under Syrian control. Until then the residents will continue to make their living.

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