Israel announces plan to double Golan Heights population, drawing condemnation from Syria
Last Sunday, Israel announced plans to double the population of the Golan Heights area over the next several years. The area is highly contested and the decision drew criticism from the Syrian government. The announcement was made at a special Cabinet meeting held in Golan Heights. Prime Minister Naftali Bannett stated that Israel will invest $320 million to make the area a more beautiful and safe place, including building thousands of new homes and erecting two new settlements. Mr. Bennett stated that the region will see the addition of two new communities named Asif and Matar.
The Golan Heights are considered occupied territory under international law and UN Security Council resolutions after Israel seized the strip of land from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967. The land was annexed by Israel in 1981. Currently, there are roughly 53,000 people living in the area, and the population consists mostly of Israeli settlers and Syrian Druze. Of the money invested into the region, portions will focus on commerce, tourism, and industry to create jobs, said Mr. Bennett. On Monday, Syria condemned the announcement.