20 Brook. J. Int'l L. 333 (1993-1995)
Application of Israeli Law to the Golan Heights is Not Annexation

handle is hein.journals/bjil20 and id is 341 raw text is: APPLICATION OF ISRAELI LAW TO THE
GOLAN HEIGHTS IS NOT ANNEXATION
Leon Sheleff*
I. INTRODUCTION
A short while after the initial hints began to circulate that
the Israeli government was considering the possibility of with-
drawing from part of the Golan Heights,' the first extensive
public debate began regarding its political and legal status. It
is indicative of the intensity of the debate that an appeal was
lodged with the Israeli High Court of Justice (only to be reject-
ed), asserting that even entertaining the possibility of partial
withdrawal from the Heights would constitute a felony.2 Cen-
tral to the debate on the Heights legal status in Israeli law is
the Golan Heights Law.3 Simply stated, the law applies the
authority of Israeli law and administrative institutions to the
Golan Heights. If the law served to annex the Golan Heights to
Israel, then there may be no way of withdrawing from the
region without explicit Israeli legislation. If the law did not
have the effect of annexation, then the Heights are simply
territories captured from Syria which remain under Syrian
sovereignty, and from which Israel may withdraw at any time.
In the midst of this debate come political efforts aimed at
passing a Basic Law: The Golan Heights4 that would explicitly
* Professor, Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law
1. For a general summary of the negotiations, see Milton Viorst, Assad Sto-
ry ... With A Happy Ending: A Guide to Those Continuing Syrian-Israeli Talks,
WASH. POST, Aug. 14, 1994, at C4.
2. A petition was filed and rejected extemporaneously. The decision of the
High Court of Justice, dated January 10, 1993, stated that the topic was not justi-
ciable. This decision further illustrates the need for the legal community to cor-
rectly define the situation which may be addressed in the future by those legal
bodies involved in the negotiations.
3. The Golan Heights Law, 5742-1981, 1981-1982 SEFER HA-CHUKKIM [S.H.]
6, translated in 36 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL [L.S.I.] 7 (1981-1982).
4. Since Israel does not have a written constitution, the Knesset has passed
a series of Basic Laws (now 11 in number), which deal with various aspects of
Israeli constitutional structure. While Basic Laws are enacted in the same way as
ordinary legislation, they are given a special status. In fact, while some Basic
Laws may be amended by a simple majority, a few clauses have been entrenched
in the Israeli legal system and may only be amended by special majorities. For a
description of Basic Laws see ARIEL BIN-NUN, THE LAW OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL

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