View of the Golan Heights

Israel plans to double population in the Golan Heights

Speaking at a special cabinet session being held at Kibbutz Mevo Hama, Bennett says move was prompted by war in Syria, which made idea of Israeli control of contested territory more acceptable to its international allies

Associated Press |
Published: 12.26.21, 14:59
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday the country intends to double the number of people living in the Golan Heights with a multimillion-dollar plan meant to further consolidate Israel's hold on the territory it captured from Syria more than five decades ago.
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  • Speaking at a special cabinet session being held at Kibbutz Mevo Hama in the Golan Heights, Bennett said the recognition by the Trump administration of Israeli sovereignty over the swath of land - and the Biden administration's indication that it will not walk out on that decision - prompted the new investment in the region.
    3 View gallery
    צפון רמת הגולן
    צפון רמת הגולן
    View of the Golan Heights
    "This is our moment. This is the moment of the Golan Heights," Bennett said. "After long and static years in terms of the scope of settlement, our goal today is to double settlement in the Golan Heights."
    Bennett added that the war in Syria made the idea of Israeli control of the territory - captured by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War - more acceptable to its international allies, saying the alternative would be much worse.
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    מובלעת ישראלית בגבול ישראל-סוריה, צפון רמת הגולן
    מובלעת ישראלית בגבול ישראל-סוריה, צפון רמת הגולן
    An IDF soldier near the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights
    (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
    Israel has long argued that the strategically important area has, for all practical purposes, been fully integrated into Israel since it was captured from Syria and that control of the strategic plateau is needed as protection from Iran and its allies in Syria.
    Tens of thousands of Israelis live in the Golan Heights, which is also home to a number of formerly Syrian Druze villages, some of which oppose Israeli control.
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    ישיבת ממשלה במבוא חמה, רמת הגולן
    ישיבת ממשלה במבוא חמה, רמת הגולן
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Asaf Magal)
    Shortly after making his remarks, Bennett's office said he was notified that his daughter tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the Israeli leader to leave the Cabinet meeting and head into self-isolation at home.
    Bennett's office said he had tested negative in a rapid test taken before the meeting and that Bennett's daughter, 14, was vaccinated.
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