Israel to Double Settlements in Golan Heights, Prime Minister Says

© AP Photo / Ariel SchalitIsraeli soldiers walk back from a position on the border with Syria on the Israeli controlled Golan Heights as smoke rises following explosions, Tuesday, July 16, 2013.
Israeli soldiers walk back from a position on the border with Syria on the Israeli controlled Golan Heights as smoke rises following explosions, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.10.2021
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TEL AVIV (Sputnik) – Israel intends to double the number of residents and build two new settlements in the Golan Heights, a disputed strategic area, which the UN considers part of Syria, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on 11 October.
"The Golan Heights is a strategic goal. Doubling the communities in it is a goal of the Government of Israel," Bennett said at the Makor Rishon newspaper's conference on Golan Heights as quoted by his office.
The cabinet will meet in six weeks to approve a national plan for the area, the prime minister said.
"Our goal is to double, and double again, the number of residents in the Golan Heights," Bennet said, adding that the Israeli government was planning to establish two new communities, create more jobs and facilitate more investment in infrastructure.
The prime minister touched upon the situation in Syria, which has been engulfed by conflict for years, but remarked that Israel saw Golan Heights as its territory regardless of the events in the neighboring country.
Druze men at the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights look out across the southwestern Syrian province of Quneitra, visible across the border on July 7, 2018  - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.09.2021
Israel 'Not Considering' Handing Golan Heights Over to Syria
Israel initially captured the area in a 1967 war and annexed it in 1981. However, the United Nations Security Council considers the Golan as part of Syria. The US administration under Donald Trump issued a presidential directive recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the territory in 2019, but the move was criticized by the European Union, Russia, and numerous other countries.
The region includes the western two-thirds of the geological Golan Heights and the Israeli-occupied part of Mount Hermon.
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