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Israel plans to double settlement in occupied Golan Heights

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Israel announces plans to double number of settlers living in Golan Heights

MEVO HAMA, Golan Heights – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that the country intends to double the number of settlers living in the occupied Golan Heights with a multi-million dollar plan to further consolidate the Israel’s grip on the territory it captured from Syria more than five decades ago.

Speaking at a special cabinet session held in the Golan Heights, Bennett said the Trump administration’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the strip of land, and the Biden administration’s indication that she would not back down at this stage on this decision, prompted new investment in the region.

“This is our time. This is the time for the Golan Heights, ”Bennett said. “After long and static years in terms of the extent of settlement, our goal today is to double settlement in the Golan Heights.”

Strengthening Israeli control over the territory would complicate any future attempts to forge peace with Syria, which claims the Golan Heights.

Israel occupied the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East War and then annexed the territory, promoting settlement and agriculture there as well as the creation of a thriving local tourism industry. The United States was the first country to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which the rest of the international community considers occupied by Israel.

Bennett said the war in Syria made the idea of ​​Israeli control of the territory more acceptable to his international allies, saying the alternative would be much worse.

Israel has long maintained that the strategically important area has, for all practical purposes, been fully integrated with Israel since it was captured from Syria and that control of the strategic plateau is necessary to protect itself from Iran and its communities. allies in Syria.

Tens of thousands of Israelis live in the Golan Heights, which is also home to a number of former Syrian Druze villages, some of which oppose Israeli control.

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