Israel to double the number of settlers in the Golan Heights

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli government on Sunday approved a plan to double the number of settlers in five years in the Golan Heights, Syrian territory administered by the Hebrew state since 1967 and annexed in 1981.

According to the document, adopted at the weekly meeting of the government, which had visited the Golan for the occasion, some 7,300 homes will be built in Katzrin, the main Israeli settlement in this strategic area, and in smaller settlements. .

“The goal of this decision is to double the number of (Israeli) inhabitants on the Golan in the coming years, or 23,000 people,” said the services of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a statement.

They add that two new settlements will be created, with the construction of 4,000 homes.

Some 20,000 Druze, who claim to be mostly Syrians but have the status of Israeli residents, live in the Golan Heights, with an area of ​​1,200 km2, alongside the Israelis.

“It goes without saying that the Golan Heights are Israeli,” Naftali Bennett said at his cabinet meeting.

“The fact that the Trump administration recognized this, and the fact that the Biden administration made it clear that there was no change in this policy is also important,” he said.

Former US President Donald Trump signed a decree in March 2019 recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which has gone against the US position for decades.

Last February, the new head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken declared that the Golan Heights were “of real importance for the security of Israel”.

“The legal questions are different and if by chance the situation were to change in Syria, it is something that we would look at, but we are far from it,” he added.

(Report Jeffrey Heller, written by Mark Heinrich, French version Sophie Louet edited by)

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