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Israel should keep the Golan Heights until Syria makes peace

Regarding Ramzi and Noura Hemady's recent commentary on Syria's Golan Heights, the authors ignore three critical facts when it comes to the ultimate possession of that disputed territory ("Let people of the Golan decide their fate," Feb. 8).

First, based on biblical and current history, the presence of Israel is justified in that strategic region. Second, there are now over 20,000 Israelis living on the Golan Heights with extensive agricultural development.

Third, Syria has refused to negotiate for the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for making peace with Israel.

Incidentally, the Golan Heights was part of the U.N. British Mandate for a Jewish homeland, but through an unauthorized agreement between Britain and France, Great Britain gave the area to France in exchange for oil rights.

Syria has mounted attacks on Israel from the Golan Heights starting with the founding of the Jewish nation in 1948 and culminating with the 1973 Yom Kippur War. When Syria ruled the area it continuously rocketed and shelled Jewish cities and towns in northern Israel.

The Golan Heights has always been a strategic region for Israel's security. Until Syria recognizes Israel in a formal peace treaty, Israel has no option but to retain that historically, religiously and strategically vital area.

Nelson Marans, Silver Spring

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