(Washington, D.C.): In recent days, there have been increasing indications that a U.S. commitment to deploy of peacekeeping troops on the Golan Heights is in the offing. For example, on June 14, 1994, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Robert H. Pelletreau told the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
"I think it’s fair to say at this point that an international presence on the Golan as part of…security arrangements is envisaged…and I think there is a large expectation that the United States would be part of that international presence…."
Amb. Pelletreau’s remarks follow statements by Secretary of State Warren Christopher, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili to the effect that the Clinton Administration would be willing to agree to such a deployment if doing so would help facilitate an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement. And it appears to reflect the urgency felt by both Washington and Jerusalem to seal a deal at the earliest possible moment.
Notably, according to the June 25th edition of the New York Times, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin proclaimed last week that "if there is no peace treaty with Syria — adding that inevitably it would mean that Israel would give up territory — Israelis should ‘prepare for war 3,5, or 7 years from now or 10 years from now.’" His Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin suggested even more ominously that Israel and Syria had only "a matter of months" to reach an agreement.
Against this backdrop, the Center for Security Policy finds it extraordinary that the U.S. Congress has failed to this point to evaluate a number of serious questions bearing on the wisdom and likely costs of deploying U.S. troops onto the Golan Heights. In fact — as noted in op.ed. articles in today’s New York Times by A. M. Rosenthal and Washington Times by the Center’s director, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. — a concerted effort is being mounted to prevent such a debate from occurring. Even the idea of requiring a Defense Department analysis of the proposed deployment and an opportunity for congressional deliberation about it is being suppressed.
The Center for Security Policy finds it completely unacceptable that so portentous a decision — for both the United States and for Israel — might be taken without due scrutiny and consideration by the Congress. In the hope of encouraging and informing the needed debate on Capitol Hill, the Center is today releasing the attached Statement of Principle entitled, Why the U.S. Must Look Before It Leaps In the Golan. It believes that this document should be required reading for every member of Congress who will, in due course, be held accountable for the repercussions of this decision — and who would be well-advised, therefore, to be heard from about it beforehand.