Netanyahu: Gamla Shall not Fall

Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu vows “Gamla shall not fall again” – and warns that a Kadima victory will mean giving up the Golan Heights.

Gil Ronen ,


The Likud's chairman and the candidate favored to win Tuesday's national election, MK Binyamin Netanyahu, visited the Golan Heights Sunday to plant a Tu B'Shvat sapling.  He vowed not to give up the Golan: “Jerusalem shall not be divided and Gamla shall not fall a second time” – a reference to the Jewish fortress in the Golan that stood up to the Romans during the Great Rebellion over 1,900 years ago.

Netanyahu was accompanied by members of the Likud list including Benny Begin, Moshe Ya'alon and Yossi Peled, as well as MK Effie Eitam, who is a Golan resident. Netanyahu planted a sapling in the artists' community of Ani'am and warned: “if Kadima wins, we will not remain on the Golan and we will just keep on making concessions. Peace is only made with the strong one, not with the weak one. Israel in the Golan is strong – not a weak state that gives up its assets." 

Netanyahu in the Golan, 22/12/2008
Israel News photo / Flash 90

Netanyahu voiced a wish that one day, his son Avner, 14, who accompanied him on the visit would bring his own children to Ani'am, show them the tree he had planted and tell them that their grandfather had planted the tree “that will grow and take root for many years, just like us in the Golan.”

Netanyahu made two visits to the Golan in the past year and used them to make statements aimed at assuring potential voters that he will not withdraw from the strategic plateau. However, reports – including one in a new book by former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk – have revealed that when he was Prime Minister, Netanyahu conveyed a message to Syria in which he agreed in writing to “withdraw from the Syrian land taken in 1967... to a commonly agreed border based on the line of June 4, 1967."
“Can you imagine a situation... in which – instead of us being here with the IDF soldiers – the Iranians and Syrians will stand here?”

Netanyahu has acknowledged that he was willing to withdraw in the Golan but claimed that he only agreed to withdraw up to the “cliff line” and not all the way to the pre-1967 lines.

Changed circumstances
In a speech during a visit to the Golan in 2008, he said: “He who sits on the Golan Heights maintains Israel's security. The Golan is essential for security from two aspects: it is vital for defense and it is vital for deterrence.”

Netanyahu said that circumstances had changed since he was Prime Minister, and that these circumstances made the Golan more vital than ever. The change, he explained, was the rise of Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza. “Can you imagine a situation... in which – instead of us being here with the IDF soldiers – the Iranians and Syrians will stand here?” he asked his audience.

'Chop off your arms'
"If someone says - 'I will make peace with you but chop off your arms and legs' – you will say 'I will not make such an agreement.' And if someone tells us 'get off of the Golan in order for us to reach a diplomatic agreement,' we say 'we are not going down from the Golan Heights.' The Golan Heights will not be abandoned. Israel must remain on the Golan Heights. This is part of Israel's eastern defensive wall.” 

Likud candidate Benny Begin, son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, said: “When we were kids we used to be told 'don't involve parents,' but I decided to say one thing: When we made peace with Egypt, Menachem Begin taught us that when we have to give back territory for peace – under certain circumstances – you do it. But the same Menachem Begin made sure, later on, to apply Israeli jurisdiction and sovereignty in the Golan, through a strategic decision, and there is wide consensus on this matter, and we need to understand how the same person took two courageous decisions.”