Israeli government wants to double Jewish population in Golan Heights

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced Sunday, December 26, the adoption by his government of an unprecedented development plan for the Golan Heights, to the tune of 1 billion shekels (around 280 million euros). For the occasion, a special council of ministers was organized in the small kibbutz of Mevo Hama, 450 inhabitants and a breathtaking view of the Sea of ​​Galilee. Almost all the political tendencies of this motley coalition, from left to right, were represented. Only Arab ministers were missing.

It has been just forty years since Israel unilaterally – and therefore illegally in the eyes of the international community – annexed the Syrian territory it had occupied since the end of the Six-Day War in 1967. The Security Council of the United Nations The UN considered in its resolution 497 of December 1981 that the annexation was « Null and void and without legal effect at the international level ». According to Bennett, a unique combination of factors led to this moment « Historical » : the recognition in 2019 of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights by Donald Trump, then President of the United States, and « The fact that Joe Biden’s administration clarified that there was no change in this policy »; the ten years of civil war in Syria, which discredited any notion of returning the territory to the Assad government.

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The government’s plan mainly focuses on implantation. « The goal … is to double the number of residents [israéliens] in the Golan Heights, thus adding 23,000 residents [juifs] », summarizes the government press release. With this in mind, it has undertaken to build, within five years, 7,300 housing units in existing colonies, including the administrative capital, Qatzrin, and 6,000 in two new villages. These new homes will be built according to a dedicated and accelerated building permit system. Almost 90 million euros will also be invested in infrastructure and local economic development (particularly in tourism and new technologies).

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 » Everything will change « 

A whole part of the population is forgotten. « We are only talking about the Jewish populations », unsurprisingly regrets Wael Tarabieh, of the Al-Marsad center for human rights in the Golan. He is part of the community of Syrian Druze who remained after 1967. There are around 25,000 today, gathered in four villages in the north-west of the territory. Most refuse to give up their Syrian identity: only 15% of them have chosen to take Israeli nationality.

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