Israel approves plan to double number of settlers in occupied Golan


In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Golan Heights remains a major strategic issue for Israel.

The Israeli government, meeting exceptionally in the occupied Golan Heights, voted this Sunday, December 26, a plan to double the number of settlers in this strategic area taken from Syria in 1967 and annexed 40 years ago.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who chaired the ministerial meeting held in Kibbutz Mevo Hama, in the Golan Heights, near the borders of Syria and Lebanon, announced the vote of this plan, the cost of which is s ‘will amount to one billion shekels (about 280 million euros).

«Our goal today is to double the population in the Golan HeightsNaftali Bennett said before the vote, adding that the plan aims to develop infrastructure in this region in the north of the country, as well as create housing and jobs. About 25,000 Israeli settlers now live in the Golan Heights alongside some 23,000 Druze who claim to be mostly Syrians while having the status of residents in Israel.

The Golan Heights, conquered by Israel from Syria during the 1967 war and annexed on December 14, 1981, constitutes a strategic territory for the two countries, which are still technically at war. Rich in water, the Golan Heights overlooks the Galilee and Lake Tiberias on the Israeli-controlled side and commands the route to Damascus on the Syrian side.

In March 2019, former US President Donald Trump signed the executive order officially recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a decision at odds with the US position for decades. Syria had denounced a « flagrant violationTo its sovereignty.

The government met at Kibbutz Mevo Hama in the Golan Heights. NIR ELIAS / REUTERS

«It goes without saying that the Golan Heights are Israeli« , Affirmed Naftali Bennett, stressing »the importance » from « the recognition of Donald Trump and the fact that the Joe Biden administration has clarified that there is no change in this policy».

Last February, the new US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken declared that the Golan Heights « was »very important for the security of Israel » more than « questions of legality (were) of a different order« . In June 2019, a new colony was inaugurated on the annexed part of the Golan Heights, called « Ramat Trump » – the « colline TrumpIn Hebrew – in honor of Donald Trump.

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