GOLAN HEIGHTS – Israel has announced a massive expansion of settlements in the Golan Heights in southwestern Syria.
In plans announced during Sunday’s cabinet meeting, it was revealed two completely new towns would be established at a cost of more than NIS 1 billion ($317 million), which will double the population of the Golan Heights within 5 years.
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7,300 homes will be built in this phase, 3,300 of them in Katzrin.
Although sovereign Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.
In March 2019, former U.S. President Donald Trump declared Israel’s right to annex the Golan Heights as part of Israel. The 28-member nations of the European Union immediately rejected the U.S. proclamation, declaring that the Golan was part of Syria and could not be annexed by an occupier, under international law. Earlier this month the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights. The only countries to vote against it were the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.
Israel has played a major part in the current war in Syria, raging since 2011, which has engulfed the country for the past decade.
“It has become routine. Reports, usually unconfirmed, of Israeli strikes against targets in Syria have become a regular occurrence. Just last week the Syrian state-run news agency SANA announced that Israeli warplanes flying across the Golan carried out a raid in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport, apparently after the arrival of a military cargo flight from Iran,” a report in The Jerusalem Post late last week said.
“Reports issued by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) have documented that so far this year Israel has attacked in Syria on 28 separate occasions. According to SOHR, IDF “aerial and rocket” strikes in 2021 have hit some 70 targets, including attacks on headquarters, warehouses, and military installations, and have killed more than 120 people,” the Jerusalem Post report said.
Attendees at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting in the Golan Heights
“Our goal today is to double the population of the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights, the need to strengthen, cultivate and live in it, is certainly a principle that unites everyone.” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday.
Bennett and Justice Minister Gideon Saar led the decision in which the ministries of Construction and Housing, Interior, Transportation and Road Safety, Tourism, Economy and Industry, Agriculture, Education, and Environmental Protection, as well as the Israel Land Authority, are involved.
“Zionism, from its earliest days, has been characterized by the points in time in which the leadership ‘seizes the moment,’ identifies a window that has been opened, a political opportunity or change of trend, and takes the opportunity to advance the interests of the State of Israel.”
“Friends, this is our moment; this is the moment for the Golan Heights. A combination of circumstances has led us today to a dramatic government decision to channel considerable resources, around NIS 1 billion ($317 million), to strengthening communities on the Golan Heights,” the Israeli prime minister said.
“First, it must be said, the Golan Heights are Israeli; this is self-evident. Israeli law has been applied to them since 1981 and they are beyond all debate.”
“The fact that the Trump administration recognized this, and the fact that the Biden administration has made it clear that there has been no change in this policy, are also important. After around ten years of terrible civil war in Syria, every knowledgeable person in the world understands that it is preferable to have Israeli heights that are quiet, flourishing and green as opposed to the alternative,” Bennet said.
“The plan that we will approve today marks 40 years since the law was applied and truth be told is years overdue. For many years, the scope of community life has stagnated. We have a major gap to close and we are starting to do so today.”
“I would like to be clear: After many static years regarding the scope of community life, our goal today is to double the population of the Golan Heights. To this end, we will strengthen the city of Katzrin with two new neighborhoods, the 12th and 13th quarters,” Bennett said.
“To this end, we will establish two new communities on the Golan Heights, Asif and Matar. We are increasing community life here.”
“And to the Israelis who are looking for a place to build their home, I say the Heights are waiting for you; come to the Golan,” the PM said.
The expansion, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office published on Sunday, will double the number of Golan Heights residents from 23,000 to 46,000.
“An additional 4,000 units in new communities: In the framework of the decision, two new communities (Asif and Matar) will be established on the Golan Heights, with approximately 2,000 units each (in addition to 7,300 units in the Golan Heights Regional Council and Katzrin),” the PMO’s statement said.
“In order to invest in housing, a special planning committee will be established, a detailed national blueprint will be advanced, a comprehensive blueprint for Katzrin will be approved and a plan for releasing live fire areas and clearing mines in the area will be implemented.”
Other features of the unprecedented plan include:
– NIS 160 million ($51 million) will be invested in improving the quality of life on the Golan Heights.
– Investments will be made in transportation infrastructure to link the Golan Heights to the center of the country and to link communities in the Golan Heights Regional Council area to Katzrin.
– The provision of urgent medical care will be upgraded and the activity of the forward medical switchboard in Katzrin will be expanded.
– The Odem Plan for developing technological-security leadership in Katzrin
– Massive investment in education and informal education
NIS 162 million ($52 million) will be invested in local and regional economic development:
– Tourism infrastructure will be developed, centering on the Golan Trail for bicycles. Grants will be provided to for entrepreneurs in lodging (including in new facilities) and marketing.
– Research & development and innovation: Agritech will be developed in the area and the Golan will become the ‘climate technologies capital’. Impact investments will be made in the region, the food tech cluster in Kiryat Shemona will be linked to the Golan Heights, etc.
– Industry and small businesses will be developed: Combined industry-agriculture facilities will be marketed with the support of the Foreign Trade Administration vis-a-vis exports.
– Unprecedented investment in a plan for developing employment and creating approximately 2,000 jobs on the Golan Heights. Elements of the decision will encourage and allow for the creation of around 2,000 jobs in the following areas: Agritech, hotels, agriculture, commercial areas, base factories, etc.,
– The Golan Heights will be the renewal energy capital – Hundreds of millions will be invested in a solar PPP project including accumulation on approximately 4,000 dunams in the Valley of Tears.
– Agro-voltaic research and development across approximately 600 dunams
– Tenders for agro-voltaic projects across approximately 2,000 dunams.
(Photos: Kobi Gideon | Israel’s GPO).
What else is new? These land grabbing parasites don’t even have fixed borders. It changes every week!