The Israeli Cabinet is to approve the establishment of two new communities on the strategic plateau within the next 6 weeks, said the Israeli Prime Minister.
By Erin Viner
“Generations have fought over this beautiful section of the land, insisted on living on the hard ground and never gave up on the dream and vision buried on the Golan Heights. This is our home; this is the scenery of our homeland. And now, given this magnificent history, we must ensure that the future of the Golan Heights is even more magnificent,” said Prime Minister Bennett in his opening remarks at the Makor Rishon newspaper Golan Heights Economic and Regional Development Conference at Midreshet HaGolan in Hispin.
Israel captured the western two-thirds of the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War from Syria, which had used the strategic site to repeatedly attack the Jewish State after its establishment in 1948. Syria’s efforts to regain the Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War were a failure. The two countries signed an armistice in 1974, and the Golan was annexed by the Israeli Knesset in 1981 under leadership of then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Noting that that his predecessor “made an incredibly brave and important decision to apply Israeli law over the Golan Heights” 40 years ago, Prime Minister Bennett went on to laud recognition of Israeli sovereignty over its side of the Golan by the United States in 2019.
Despite what he called, “wall-to-wall agreement in Israeli society regarding the Golan Heights and its importance,” Bennett stated that the lands are “from utilizing their latent potential.”
The development of the Golan “a strategic goal,” declared Bennett, revealing that in the next 6 weeks his Cabinet will approve a “national plan” for the establishment of “two new communities, jobs and more investments in infrastructure” intended “to double, and double again, the number of residents.”
The Israeli leader said that all necessary resources will be devoted to implementing the proposal, and that his government is “now working to complete the plan that will change the face of the Golan Heights,” an “obligation” he vowed to “live up to.”
Thanking the conference sponsors for the opportunity to engage in “important discourse on the socio-economic resilience of the Golan Heights, to the settlement, to agriculture, the future and more,” Bennett elaborated that “some very interesting directions on how to turn the Golan Heights into an experimental area for renewable energy, in the solar field and more, came up” in previous conversations with entrepreneurs, before pledging to “increase the momentum and together we will bring prosperity and development to this beautiful piece of land and its excellent people.”
Saying that “it is impossible to discuss the Golan Heights without touching on what is happening over the border,” Bennett declared that “I would like to make one thing clear – our position regarding the Golan Heights is not connected to the situation in Syria.”
“True, the horrors that have been taking place there for a decade have convinced many in the world that perhaps it is preferable that this beautiful and strategic piece of land be in the hands of the State of Israel,” he proclaimed, adding, “that it is preferable that it be green and prosperous than yet another arena for killings and bombings.”
The Israeli security establishment is “very closely monitoring what is happening in Syria,” including its ties with Iran, “which has dispatched proxies and built armies to surround the State of Israel” and “aspires to build yet another army on the border of the Golan Heights,” stated Prime Minister Bennett.
“We will continue to act wherever and whenever necessary, at our initiative, and on a daily basis, in order to roll back the Iranian presence in Syria. They have nothing to look for there. Their adventure on our northern border needs to end. Thus, we will ensure not only the peace of the residents of the Golan Heights but of all citizens of Israel,” he added.
“But even in the situation – which could happen – in which the world changes direction regarding Syria, or regarding the Assad Regime, this has no connection to the Golan Heights,” Bennett then reiterated, before proclaiming, “The Golan Heights is Israel, period.”