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   JANUARY 2000 -  Issue #121    


Not One Cent

Herbert Zweibon

The Clinton administration is frantically pushing for a Middle East "peace" solution that will deprive Israel of its most strategic asset, the Golan Heights--and will compel America to pay tens of billions of dollars, to boot.

How much will it cost America to give Syria the Golan Heights? Estimates vary, but they are all astronomical. Some media reports assert that Israel will ask for between $10 and $20-billion, but it is not clear what that will cover. The costs associated with surrendering the Golan would include relocating Israeli army bases from the Golan to the Galilee, building additional new military fortifications in northern Israel, improving other aspects of the Israeli army and air force, and compensating the 18,000 Jewish residents who face expulsion from the region.

The figure of $10-$20 billion does not, however, take into account the question of aid to Syria. Most reports about the current negotiations state as a matter of fact that America is offering Syria substantial amounts of financial and even military aid as an incentive to take the Golan from Israel. Nor does this figure include the ongoing costs of observer forces which the U.S. will surely have to contribute (as it does in the Sinai). Indeed it seems to be far below the actual cost. According to Ze'ev Schiff, the military affairs correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, the total, which could stretch over many years, will be at least $65 billion. Schiff is knowledgable on such matters and as someone with leftwing views, it seems unlikely that he would exaggerate a price tag that can only frighten potential supporters of a Golan deal.

Before rushing to sign a treaty with Syria that is based on American largesse, Ehud Barak should pause to consider the possibility that the United States Congress may not be so eager as President Clinton to pour out many billions of dollars (on the most modest estimate) in order to bestow the Golan Heights on Syria. Clinton has a motive, not only a triumphant photo-op and a "legacy" (good for a chapter in his autobiography) but a chance to finally nail the Nobel Peace Prize. For obtaining the Sinai for Egypt, Carter walked off with that statesman's equivalent of the Academy Award and Clinton doubtless feels his efforts were slighted when Arafat and Rabin obtained the prize and he was omitted. But as a Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out, why should the American taxpayer fork over billions for Clinton to enjoy his moment in the Swedish sun?

The New York Times of December 8 notes that Senator John McCain observes that a 3% pay raise for military personnel would cost one and a half billion dollars and that eliminating federal tax for soldiers serving overseas would cost $800 million annually. These measures are badly needed. At present recruitment is a major problem, and the families of many servicemen have to resort to food stamps. Is it better to spend billions so that Assad will sign a piece of paper than to address these priorities?

An Israeli-Syrian deal offers two possibilities and in neither case should the U.S. Congress be asked to provide one dollar, let alone billions of them. If Syria is seriously interested in peace and return of the Golan is the only obstacle, once it obtains the Golan, Israel will no longer have to worry about its northern neighbor. Since it already has peace with Egypt and Jordan (there are peace treaties to prove it), and "peace" with the Palestinians is in the final stages, Israel in this happy scenario will be free to devote its full energies to enjoyment of the New Middle East that Shimon Peres described in his (it will then be proven) prophetic book of that name. In this happy event, Israel will save many of the billions it now spends on its defense. Its young men will only need to serve a fraction of the time they now

(Continued on p.11)


The Price of Withdrawal ...3

Mad Cows ...7

The Psychiatric Ward ...8

Israel on the Auction Block ...10

January 2000               - 1 -               Outpost


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