Al-Marsad Warns of the Political Agenda Behind Israel’s Elections in the Occupied Syrian Golan

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Al-Marsad reiterates its vehement opposition to the 30 October 2018 elections in the five Syrian villages of the occupied Golan because they are illegal, inherently undemocratic, and aim to expand Israeli influence in the Golan.

In holding municipal elections, Israel is not empowering the political rights of the Syrian community but dividing us and legitimizing its claim of sovereignty over the Golan. With the conflict raging across the ceasefire line in Syria proper, Israel has continually tightened its influence over the region. The elections are simply Israel’s latest attempt to strengthen its hold on the Golan and seek international recognition of its claim over our land.

Despite initial divisions among the 27,000 remaining native Syrians in the Golan, on the eve of the elections, our people have come together in a unified movement to stand up for their inherent rights and against the “Israelization” of the region. This has occurred through the opening of a new public forum for peaceful and civil debate. With this new foundation in open public discussion, the Syrian people have been able to freely share their views and bridge divisions. In the last week alone, the community movement against the elections has caused ten candidates to remove their names from consideration in the elections. Together, as a united community, we will continue to withstand Israel’s occupation and defend our rights as Syrians.

Al-Marsad, in agreement with the United Nations Human Rights Council, rejects the legitimacy of the elections under international law. The elections violate the core principal of humanitarian law, specified in the Hague Regulations and Geneva Conventions, requiring Israel not to apply its own laws within an occupied territory. The elections also contravene international human rights law because they, under Israel’s annexation policies, significantly restrict the Syrians’ right to participate in a meaningful political process for a representative, democratic government. Israeli law allows only those holding Israeli citizenship – about 20 percent of the population of the remaining five Syrian villages – to run for office.

Al-Marsad echoes all of its prior statements condemning the elections as unlawful and invalid, continues to support open public debate, and encourages the whole community come together, overcome divisions, and peacefully reject the “Israelization” of the occupied Syrian Golan.

Al-Marsad is an independent, non-profit, human rights organisation – it is the only human rights organisation in the Golan.