Israel plans multi-million dollar settlement expansion in Golan Heights
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday announced plans of expanding Israel’s settlement in the occupied Golan Heights with a multimillion dollar expansion that will further strengthen the country’s hold on the territory that was seized from Syria over 50 years ago.
“This is our moment. This is the moment of the Golan Heights,” Bennett said during a special cabinet meeting, reported The Associated Press. “After long and static years in terms of the scope of settlement, our goal today is to double settlement in the Golan Heights.”
Bennett said the move was prompted by former President Trump formally recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory in 2019 and President Biden subsequently indicating that there are no plans of changing this recognition. The U.S. is currently the only country in the world that recognizes the Golan Heights as being part of Israel.
The Golan Heights were part of southwestern Syria until 1967 when it came under Israeli military occupation.
Israel unilaterally annexed the area in 1981. Subsequent negotiations between Israel and Syria have broken down for numerous reasons, with Syria demanding complete or partial return of the territory.
As the AP noted, Bennett’s announcement will undoubtedly complicate future attempts at establishing peace with between Israel and Syria. The Golan Heights are occupied by tens of thousands of Israelis as well as some remaining Druze Arab communities who have continually rejected Israel’s control.